The percentage of Maine residents without health insurance dropped from 8 percent to 5.7 percent over three years, according to a new report from the US Census.
The state now has the 14th-lowest uninsured rate in the nation, although it remains the highest in New England, according to the census.
The drop is primarily the result of Medicaid eligibility expansion in 2019, and represents the largest decline among the states from 2019-21, the latest year statistics were available. About 99,000 Maine people now have Medicaid insurance. Medicaid, also known here as MaineCare, is insurance for low-income people funded with a blend of federal and state dollars.
Massachusetts, which enacted insurance coverage reforms in the 2000s that preceded the Affordable Care Act, has the lowest uninsured rate in the nation at 2.5 percent. Nationally, the uninsured rate declined from 9.2 percent in 2019 to 8.6 percent in 2021.
Maine’s uninsured rate is now about half what it was a decade ago. The percentage of Maine residents without insurance was 11.2 percent in 2013, the year before the Affordable Care Act was implemented, according to the census.
New England states have among the nation’s lowest uninsured rates, with Vermont recording the second-lowest at 3.7 percent, and Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire are all among the 10 lowest. There are still 14 states that have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, including Texas and most states in the Southeast. Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the country with 18 percent lacking coverage.
Medicaid expansion was mandatory under the Affordable Care Act, but the US Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that states must decide whether to participate in the expansion. Former Maine Gov. Paul LePage – who is now running for a third non-consecutive term in November against the