In a recent Maine Compass, Sen. Rodney Whittemore, R-Skowhegan, who works on the Legislature’s Insurance and Financial Services Committee, describes the results of Maine’s new health insurance law (Public Law 90) as “remarkable,” “encouraging,” “affordable” and “a testament to the power of the free market.”

I wonder if Whittemore would use these same words to describe a insurance premium increase of 78 percent?

I own a small business in Madison and was shocked in January when I learned our insurance premiums, with same provider and the same plan, had increased that amount. I consulted with my insurance agent, thinking there must have been a mistake; unfortunately, there was no mistake.

My insurance agent and accountant explained three major factors that negatively affect insurance premiums: Low number of employees, rural area and high average age of employees.

This last factor I find disturbing because, as an employer, I cannot discriminate based on age, according to state and federal law. Why then can the insurance companies discriminate and charge higher premiums based on the average age of my employees?

Whittemore’s statistics can be misleading as they represent the entire state of Maine. The statistics would be much more telling if they were specific to region, for example northern versus southern, or rural versus urban.

I think what we will find is the small businesses in southern and urban Maine made out significantly better and at the expense of small businesses in rural and northern Maine. Perhaps Whittemore can provide these numbers so the people can make their own judgment about the success — or lack thereof — of PL90.

Darren Richards, Madison

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