Maine Gets Health Care Waiver

March 10, 2011

The state of Maine has been granted a waiver for one of the core provisions in the health care overhaul that was passed last year, due to the likelihood that enforcing the provision could completely destabilize the state’s market for individual health insurance.

According to a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it is waiving the requirement that insurance companies must spend a minimum of 80 cents of every premium dollar on medical care and quality improvement. Maine is being allowed to maintain it’s current standard of a minimum of 65 cents of every dollar, though HHS has stated that it will review the figures in two years, and could revoke the waiver at that point.

This decision has made Maine the first state to receive a waiver of this requirement. Requests from Kentucky, Nevada, and New Hampshire are currently pending.

Maine Insurance Superintendent Mila Kofman said the waiver was requested out of the fear that one of the three major insurers in the state would withdraw from the market completely. That insurer, MEGA Life and Health Insurance Co, currently holds 37% of the state’s individual health insurance policies.