Majority of Mainers Concerned with Medical Debt, Rising Healthcare Costs
Monday, June 5, 2023
Most Mainers believe they are one medical emergency or illness away from financial disaster, according to a new survey.
The non-profit Consumers for Affordable Healthcare finds rising costs, including those for prescription drugs, are weighing heavy on the majority of Mainers - causing more than one in three residents to skip or delay going to the doctor when sick.
Executive Director Ann Woloson said the majority of Mainers with commercial insurance are also concerned they'll experience a gap in their coverage.
"You know you hear this all the time," said Woloson, "people splitting pills, or not filling a prescription because they can't afford it. It just shows us that more needs to be done."
Woloson said Maine is on the right track to addressing the high cost of healthcare and the state's new executive director with the Office of Affordable Healthcare could help, and so could the Prescription Drug Affordability Board.
More than four out of ten Mainers have medical debt in their household, and nearly all of them who've accrued that debt within the past two years still have it.
Woloson said counselors with her organization's free hotline help Mainers with insurance questions and regularly hear from families struggling to pay their bills.
"I think as more Mainers experience affordability issues," said Woloson, "they realize they're not alone and that everyone in Maine should have access to quality healthcare they can afford."
That includes the growing number of immigrants in Maine, who are helping alleviate the state's worker shortage.
Lawmakers are considering a bill to expand MaineCare to all low-income residents, regardless of immigration status.
Woloson said everyone benefits when everyone can get the care they need... when they need it.
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