New Data Brief Explores Expansion Population

The Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) today released a new data brief developed with the University of Southern Maine that presents a statistical analysis of uninsured non-elderly adults age 18 – 64 with no children and lower incomes, the population newly eligible for MaineCare through expansion. Drawing from five years of data from Maine’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the report addresses sociodemographic characteristics, health status, and access to care.

The survey indicates that those who are likely eligible for expanded MaineCare coverage are twice as likely as other nonelderly adults to be aged 55-64, and are more likely to be unmarried and live in small or isolated regions of North and Downeast Maine. Only 11% of these individuals have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Thirty-three percent of these adults have not seen a doctor in the last year due to cost, and 20% have not received a routine checkup in five or more years. Overall, the newly eligible adults are more than three times as likely to self-report their health as fair or poor. The report also notes that this group is more likely than others to face issues with depression, obesity, smoking, and other chronic diseases. However, they are no more or less likely than other nonelderly adults to struggle with substance use disorders.

“In considering the information this report presents, we cannot forget that we are talking about Maine people, our neighbors, friends, families, and coworkers,” says Barbara Leonard, MeHAF’s President & CEO. “With that in mind, we must explore how we not only help them gain coverage, but support them to understand and utilize their coverage to their best advantage.”

The report also highlights the health issues providers will likely have to focus on as new patients seek care. These include behavioral health services, tobacco treatment, and chronic disease prevention and management. Suggestions regarding broader system changes include expanding Maine’s rural health care workforce, pairing care with health system navigation, and purposeful outreach and relationship building by providers.

The full brief can be read here.

The Maine Health Access Foundation’s mission is to promote access to quality health care, especially for those who are uninsured and underserved, and improve the health of everyone in Maine.

 MeHAF works with nonprofit partners and key leaders in the public and private sectors to advance initiatives and policies that particularly help those who face barriers accessing health care services and achieving optimal health. Each year we provide approximately $4 million in grant and program funding to support activities aligned with our mission.