Anthem Blue Cross to Renew Maine’s Dirigo Plan for Another Year

September 25, 2006

Maine’s Dirigo Health Agency reached an agreement with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to extend its DirigoChoice insurance program for another year.

“This is good news,” said Karynlee Harrington, agency director. “It means the agency will continue to provide affordable comprehensive health coverage to uninsured and underinsured small businesses, individuals and families in Maine.”

DirigoChoice has been promoted by Gov. John Baldacci’s administration as a way to expand coverage and help small businesses reduce their health care costs. But enrollment levels and business participation have fallen short of expectations.

More than 11,000 people are currently covered under DirigoChoice, with 2,300 small businesses enrolled in the program. Dirigo Health also provides coverage to 5,000 people under MaineCare, the state Medicaid program.

Under the new agreement, rate increases will be held down through cost containment efforts and additional co-pays for some services, the Dirigo Health Agency said. Anthem is seeking an average community rate increase of 5.5 percent for small groups and 18 percent for the self-employed and individuals.

The Legislature rejected a Baldacci-backed proposal to allow the program to be self-insured instead of contracting with Anthem.

A 15-member commission appointed by the governor to study the structure and financing of Dirigo Health is scheduled to report its findings this winter.

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