Leading the Way? Maine's Initial Experience in Expanding Coverage through Dirigo Health Reforms

Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
December 2007
Lipson, D.J., Verdier, J.M., and L. Quincy

Since enacting comprehensive health care reform in 2003, Maine’s Dirigo Health program has helped expand coverage for low- and moderate-income individuals. By September 2006, about 16,100 individuals were enrolled in two coverage initiatives: DirigoChoice, a subsidized insurance product, and a Medicaid eligibility expansion for low-income parents of dependent children. While these programs are making health coverage more affordable to low-income individuals, small firms, and sole proprietors, with subsidies targeting those most in need, by late 2006, the initiatives had enrolled less than 10 percent of previously uninsured residents. To pay for this expanded coverage, Maine has utilized savings in the overall health care system due to lower uncompensated care and cost controls. However, the funds raised thus far are insufficient to pay for greater subsidized enrollment in Dirigo programs, leading to a search for other financing sources to sustain the program.

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