New data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau offers details about Mainers who lack health insurance but does not make clear why Maine was one of only two states where the number of uninsured residents without insurance increased in 2013.

Maine’s uninsured increased by 12,000 last year, a 9 percent increase that brought the total number of residents without insurance to 147,000, or 11.2 percent of the state’s population.

A quick analysis prompted two health care experts to speculate that the increase probably was related to Gov. Paul LePage’s successful effort in 2012 to remove 30,000 people from MaineCare, the state’s version of the Medicaid program.

Mitchell Stein, an independent health policy analyst, cited a 4.8 percent increase in the uninsured rate among people who earn 150 percent to 199 percent of the federal poverty level. Those who lost MaineCare coverage probably would have fallen into that category. Those residents were earning $17,235 to $22,980 a year.

“We are seeing the harm that came as a result of that law,” Stein said. “To me, that makes sense. It fits with something that happened and we would expect to see, and this data confirms it.”

The new data is contained in the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Earlier this week, the bureau released figures showing that Maine’s uninsured rate increased by 9 percent, or roughly 12,000 people. Maine and New Jersey were the only states where the number of uninsured increased. Nationally, the number of uninsured people dropped by 2 percent.


Health experts cautioned against drawing firm conclusions from the data released by the bureau, which surveyed only about 5 percent of Maine’s households and has a 4.9 percent margin of error — a margin that increases among each subset of the population.

“These may not be real findings, because the data is so small,” said Tricia Riley, a senior fellow and adjunct professor of health at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service.

But the data, which does not reflect health care plans under the Affordable Care Act, which took effect in 2014, does provide some insight into which Mainers are increasingly without insurance.

According to the census estimates, 23 percent of the uninsured are ages 45 to 54.

Riley attributed that high percentage to the cut contained in PL 90, a state law that removed 14,000 people, primarily childless adults, from the MaineCare rolls in 2013.

“With childless adults, everyone focused on the younger childless adults, but there was a significant number of them who were older,” she said.


Estimates also show that 56.2 percent of those without insurance are men. That’s because women with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level who are pregnant or have children still qualify for MaineCare, according to Andrea Irwin, legal and policy director for the Consumers for Affordable Health Care.

The median age of the uninsured was 38.6, while 80 percent of those without insurance were working. Those employed in retail and construction sectors, as well as the arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services sector, had the highest uninsured rates at 16.3 percent, 15 percent and 15.7 percent, respectively.

Forty-eight percent of those without insurance had only a high school diploma or equivalent, while 34 percent had some college or an associate degree.

Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher accounted for 13.9 percent of the uninsured.

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