Maine State Senator David Miramant
Maine State Senator David Miramant
As a state senator, I have the privilege of talking with folks from all different walks of life here in Knox County. Some of the most common questions I’m asked are about health care. Whether young or old, coastal or inland, folks wonder about how to get access to it. These questions are important, because the modern health care system is vast, confusing, and seems to be designed to divide folks, while creating a level of complexity to hide the fact that many people and companies are getting rich on our suffering. We have a lot of work to do on both the state and federal level to make sure our health care system works for all people. We also have to do all we can to make sure it isn’t bankrupting hard-working folks even when they have insurance.

This year there have been some important developments that I want to make sure you are aware of. Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law in 2010, more people have health insurance than ever before. For people who didn’t receive health insurance through their workplace or the government, the ACA provided more options for coverage. Each year, there is an open enrollment period when individuals may buy individual health insurance plans through state-based health insurance exchanges. Open enrollment for 2021 individual marketplace health coverage ran from November 1 to December 15, 2020. However, this year has been unlike any other and it’s required us to rethink how we get more folks covered.

Since the reaction to COVID-19 caused so many businesses to close and workers to lose their jobs, many of those folks also lost their health insurance. Unemployment has presented our neighbors and their families with a variety of problems including poverty, homelessness, food insecurity and more. Even though the law allows for up to 60 days to enroll in other insurance, the closing of the enrollment window leaves out folks who may have missed their 60 days or people who are uninsured but may now see added value to health coverage due to the pandemic.

Because of this, the Biden administration created a special enrollment period for the ACA marketplace beginning on February 15 and running through May 15. The president is hoping that this opportunity will help some of the 15 million uninsured Americans to participate and get insurance coverage. Folks can now shop and compare plans at coverme.gov. In addition, you may qualify for lower health care costs. You’re not in this alone, either. Our friends at Consumers for Affordable Health Care are here to help with any questions or concerns. Their HelpLine is free, confidential and a great resource at (800) 965-7476.

Giving folks more opportunities to enroll in health insurance coverage is an important part of expanding access to health care. However, there is plenty more work to do to lower health care costs and keep folks healthy. Each year, far too many people file for bankruptcy due to medical debt, even if they do have health insurance. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to move beyond a health care system that causes folks to lose their homes or make difficult decisions about if and when to put food on the table.

Outside of health care coverage, there’s a lot you can do to keep your body and mind healthy. Regular exercise and getting outside are important parts of a balanced lifestyle and can help keep your body and mind in good shape. Being mindful about how you fuel your body and eating nutrient-rich foods can also make you more resilient to illnesses.

As always, if I can be of any help to you or your family don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 287-1515 or david.miramant@legislature.maine.gov.