Our town - Friendship - is not a Democratic stronghold. Self-employed lobstermen tend to vote Republican. And this is a fishing town. The only sizeable employer is the Friendship Trap Company. But rather than crying like a Tea Party Member of Congress for repeal of "Obamacare", lobstermen and the self-employed here and across the midcoast are signing up at a high rate.
Why? Good affordable coverage, on a sliding scale (with subsidies for a family of four with income up to $95,000). - gwc
Affordable Care Act enrollment puts Maine in rare company - The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram
by Joe Lawlor
Midcoast towns where lobstermen make a living also tend to be where the Affordable Care Act is reaching the most Mainers per capita, producing the highest sign-up rates for health insurance, according to an analysis of federal enrollment data.
The Kaiser Family Foundation review of enrollment figures from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that Mainers have embraced the Affordable Care Act at a higher rate than all but two states and the District of Columbia. But the sign-ups have not been evenly distributed across the state. In some areas, such as Lewiston and Livermore Falls, many have not taken advantage of the subsidized health benefits, while in other areas the ACA has gained much more traction.
Areas with the highest enrollments were mostly towns along the coast such as Vinalhaven, Deer Isle, Stonington and Friendship, where many lobstermen live. Those towns had per-capita ACA enrollment rates more than double the average Maine town, according to ZIP code-level data from DHHS.
But it’s not only lobstermen. ACA sign-ups have surged the most in areas with the highest rates of self-employment, according to a Maine Sunday Telegram analysis of ZIP code-level enrollments and U.S. Census data.
The ZIP codes with high enrollment also tend to contain a higher percentage of self-employment in the workforce, with some ZIP codes having three times as many self-employed workers or more than the state average of 11 percent self-employed.
For lobsterman John Drouin, who lives in the Washington County town of Cutler, the ACA is a mixed bag – even though he’s purchased insurance in the first two years of its existence. He said the bureaucracy and red tape he’s endured to buy benefits have been burdensome, and premiums tripled for 2015 because his income is going up and his household size is decreasing as his young adult children leave home.
But still, he’d rather have insurance than not, after 15 years of living without it.
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