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Factsheet: Maine

Maine spends more money per capita on healthcare than most states, and the costs keep going up.


Maine spends more money per capita on healthcare than most states, and the costs keep going up.

  • Maine spent around $8.6 billion on health care in 2004.[1]
  • Maine’s healthcare bill keeps going up, an astonishing 8% average annual increase between 1991 and 2004.[2]
  • Maine spent $6,540 per capita in 2004, higher than the national average of $5,283.[3]
  • The highest per capita spending in 2004 occurred in Maine, along with Massachusetts, New York, Alaska, and Connecticut, with spending 20% or more above the national average.[4]
  • For workers covered by an employer-based health plan, employees pay 18% ($792) and employers pay 82% ($3,498). Nationally, employees also pay 18%, an average of $723.[5]
  • Family premiums cost far more. Employees in Maine contribute 29% of the cost, an average of $3,303 every year. Nationally, employees pay an average of $2,585 (24%) for family coverage. The cost of family premiums increased at a far higher rate than incomes (27.3% between 2001 and 2005, while median income for families purchasing family coverage increased only 9.52%).[6]
  • Despite Maine’s best efforts, 10% of people remain uninsured without help in a state with among the highest costs for care.[7]
  • Over two-thirds of uninsured people (67%) live in families with at least one full time worker.[8]

Maine spends more in part because Maine is a leader among states in providing access to insurance and care for most of its residents.

  • 90% of people have some kind of health insurance coverage, far higher than the national average of 84%.[9] In Portland, roughly 92% have health insurance.[10]
  • People who buy health insurance for themselves or their small business cannot be excluded due to health condition, and costs are spread as widely as possible through community rating.[11]
  • Maine has an insurance premium assistance program for small employers (DirigoChoice). Participating small business employers can purchase insurance at more affordable rates and must contribute 60% of employees’ premiums. [12]
  • Whereas nearly half (46%) of adults living in poverty lack insurance nationwide, only 25% of adults living in poverty in Maine are uninsured. Maine uses Medicaid to cover people.[13]
  • A higher percent of women get early prenatal care in Maine than elsewhere (88.5% compared to 83.8% on average) and give birth to fewer low birth-weight babies.[14] According to DirigoHealth, Maine’s statewide health initiative, Maine has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the nation.[15]
  • Maine spends more than three times the national average on community and home-based care which helps keep people out of nursing homes.[16]
  • 88.3% of Portland area residents rate their health as good to excellent.[17]

Despite higher costs, too many patients in Maine are injured by unsafe care.

  • An estimated 8,000 to 16,000 people admitted to the hospital in 2006 suffered an infection due to their medical care. Hospital infections can cause permanent disability or death.[18]
  • Although the true number of patients harmed by medical errors in each state is a well-kept secret, the Institute of Medicine estimates as many as 98,000 Americans die from these preventable mistakes each year.[19] These errors range from doing surgery on the wrong part of the body to serious bed sores to getting the wrong dose of medication.[20]

Maine faces some challenges, particularly with chronic disease, long term care, and the uninsured.

  • Maine has the highest rates of chronic diseases (cancer, heart and lung disease, and diabetes) in New England.[21]
  • According to the Center for Disease Control, Maine has a higher than average cancer death rate.[22]


[1] http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?ind=592&cat=5&rgn=21 Healthcare Expenditures measure spending for all privately and publicly funded personal healthcare services and products.

[2] http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?ind=595&cat=5&rgn=21

[3] http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?ind=596&cat=5&rgn=21

[4] http://www.cms.hhs.gov/NationalHealthExpendData/downloads/res-highlights.pdf

[5] http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?cat=5&sub=67&rgn=21

[6] http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?cat=5&sub=67&rgn=21http://www.rwjf.org/files/research/042508ctuwfinalembargoed.pdf

[7] http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?cat=3&sub=39&rgn=21

[8] http://www.urban.org/health/statistics.cfm

[9] http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?cat=3&sub=39&rgn=21

[10] http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/brfss-smart/MMSARiskChart.asp?yr=2006&MMSA=70&cat=HC&qkey=880&grp=0

[11] http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?cat=7&rgn=21

[12] http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?cat=7&rgn=21; http://www.dirigohealth.maine.gov/dhsp02g.html

[13] http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?cat=3&sub=39&rgn=21


[15] http://www.dirigohealth.com/dhsp01a.html#10

[16] http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?ind=597&cat=5&rgn=21 ; http://www.cms.hhs.gov/NationalHealthExpendData/downloads/prov-methodology2004.pdf

[17] http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/brfss-smart/MMSARiskChart.asp?yr=2006&MMSA=70&cat=HS&qkey=1100&grp=0

[18] Infection Control ‘A Problem for Patient Safety, John P. Burke, The New England Journal of Medicine,
13 February 2003, Vol. 348: 651-656. An estimated 5 to 10 percent of all hospital patients acquire
infections; According to the CDC, hospital acquired infections are a significant cause of morbidity and
mortality in the U.S. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/pdf/hicpac/infections_deaths.pdf In 2006, Maine had
163,705 discharges.

[19] Institute of Medicine, To Err is Human, Kohn, Linda, Corrigan and Donaldson, 2000, pp.26.

[20] Ibid 19, pp.35.

[21] http://www.dirigohealth.com/dhsp01a.html#10

[22] http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/publications/factsheets/ChronicDisease/maine.htm