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Poll: Mainers Face Health-Care Affordability Burdens

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Tuesday, January 11, 2022   

A new poll found a majority of Mainers struggle to afford the medical care they need.

Advocates for increasing access to health care say Gov. Janet Mills and the Legislature have taken steps to address the issues, such as creating a Maine Prescription Drugs Affordability Board, expanding options for coverage and providing small businesses with subsidies to help pay insurance premiums. But they also say more needs to be done.

Elise Lowry, public health analyst for Altarum HealthCare Value Hub, which conducted the survey, said nearly 65% of Maine adults reported having a health-care affordability burden in the last year.

"Affordability burdens can include going without coverage due to the high cost of insurance, delaying or foregoing care due to affordability concerns, and getting care or struggling to pay the resulting medical bills," Lowry outlined.

She noted affordability burdens were found across all income levels, and when it came to age, 18- to 34-year-olds experienced the greatest burdens. Four in five Maine residents reported being worried about affording coverage at some point in the future.

Lowry pointed out prescription drugs are one of the most, if not the most commonly provided medical service in the U.S., with more than half of Americans taking one or more prescription drugs. She added more than half of Maine adults reported concerns about affording the cost.

"Nearly one-third of Maine adults fraction their medication in some way," Lowry explained. "Such as cutting pills on half, not filling a prescription or skipping a dose of medicine."

The survey also showed many Mainers worry about affording hospital bills. More than half of adults in the state said they worry about being able to find out the cost of a procedure ahead of time.

Disclosure: Consumers for Affordable Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, and Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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