Maine getting word out about new health insurance options

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October 1, 2013, 6:15 pm
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(NECN: Amy Sinclair) - Getting the word out about the new health insurance options has been particularly challenging in Maine.

That's because while Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Rhode Island have opted to run their own health care exchanges, Maine decided to let the federal government take charge.

The entrance to Portland's Community Health Center, was flanked with balloon bouquets Tuesday morning along with signs informing the uninsured they could walk in and get help enrolling in one of the new plans offered by the Affordable Care Act.

"We're doing anything we can communication-wise to catch people's attention," said PCHC Outreach Manager Kira Maas.

But it's an uphill battle.

Other states spent millions of dollars over the last 3 months promoting their new Exchanges via TV and radio advertising.

"Like everything else we do in Maine, we're doing it on a shoe-string," said Dr. Wendy Wolf, CEO of Maine Health Access Foundation. "We're trying to do it with our community partners and it's been challenging."

There were press conferences around the state Tuesday publicizing both the HealthCare.gov and Enroll207.com websites.

"Today is your day to go to HealthCare.gov and sign up," Portland Mayor Michael Brennan told the crowd at a press conference on the city's waterfront.

Unfortunately, many would-be subscribers would have to wait because the sites were inaccessible for much of the day as millions tried to go online.

Many of the Mainers looking for health care options are older, since Maine is the oldest state in the country, and there are many older working people who are underinsured and hoping for the best until they qualify for Medicare.

At 61, Mark Freuhauf has made do with a $10,000 deductible, sometimes called catastrophic care, as a way to keep his business costs down.

"I'm interested in seeing, if for the same dollar, I can lower the deductible and get more routine health care,"said Freuhauf.

While he wasn't able to explore options online Tuesday, he says he'll try again. After waiting years for better options, Freuhauf says another day won't make much of a difference.

Tags: maine, Amy Sinclair, Affordable Care Act, health care exchanges, health insurance options
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