Governor Janet Mills, Old Port Candy Co-Owner Anna Largay, and Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew

$20 Million in Health Insurance Savings for Maine Small Businesses & Employees have been made

September 18, 2022

By Ramona du Houx

Portland, MAINE – Governor Janet Mills today highlighted savings that Maine small businesses and their employees are receiving through her Small Business Health Insurance Premium Relief Program.

The program, an initiative of the Governor’s Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, reduces health insurance premiums for participating small businesses by $50 per covered employee per month or up to $130 per month for family coverage.

The Governor visited Old Port Candy Co., a small, family-owned candy store in Portland, that is participating in the program. Co-owner Anna Largay said that the program saves her small business, and her family, $130 per month – and that her total savings through the program thus far has amounted to one month of health insurance premiums she would have had to otherwise pay.

“I love running my family’s business. It brings a smile to my face knowing that we are making other people happy through our candy,” said Anna Largay, Owner of Old Port Candy. “Running a small business is never easy, especially when inflation has made everything more expensive, but I am grateful that Governor Mills is in our corner. This program is saving my family $130 a month – and that means a lot for us and for this business. Thank you, Governor Mills.”

The program has saved $20 million in health insurance costs for Maine small businesses and their employees from its launch in November 2021 through August 2022. It has helped 5,764 small businesses in Maine and 46,348 Maine people – employees and their families – as of June 2022. The support will run through April 30, 2023.

“Small businesses are the backbone of Maine’s economy, providing good-paying and rewarding jobs to Maine people. Ensuring that these businesses, like Old Port Candy, are able to afford something as important as health insurance is important to me, to our people, and to our economy,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I am proud that my Jobs Plan program has saved small businesses and their employees more than $20 million to date. With inflation hurting bottom lines, that’s real money that small businesses and their employees can put towards other needs, and with average health insurance premiums expected to decrease next year, there will be more savings to come. My Administration will continue to work hard to support small businesses and their employees.”

The Small Business Health Insurance Premium Relief Program is administered by the Maine Bureau of Insurance in partnership with small group health insurance carriers. It is funded by $39 million from the American Rescue Plan.

“Affordable, accessible, and high-quality health care has never been more important to Maine people,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “This program is providing direct and immediate relief to small businesses as they look forward to even more savings in the coming years. As a result of Governor Mills’ leadership, small employers are positioned to help their valued workers visit a doctor, afford medication, and get preventive care that will keep them healthy and lower health care costs into the future.”

Small businesses split savings from the program with their workers, based on the share of the total premium the employers and employees would otherwise pay, or choose to pass on more or all of the savings to their workers.

This one-time support will be followed by even greater monthly savings next year because of the Governor’s bipartisan Made for Maine Health Coverage Act. Under the new law, Maine small businesses are estimated to save an average of more than $860 per person in 2023, which is more than $70 per person per month. It will be the first time since at least 2001 that average premiums will decline for Maine small businesses. The average savings per person in the small group market is estimated to be more than $8,900 over the next five years, according to the Maine Bureau of Insurance.

The savings for Maine small businesses come as average small group premiums in many other northeast states will increase, including in Rhode Island by an average of 11.5 percent (according to preliminary filings),  in Vermont by an average of 11.7 to 18.3 percent, in Connecticut by an average of 14.8 percent, and in New York by an average of 7.9 percent.

The law is expected to also stabilize the health insurance market for small businesses in the future and is expected to save small businesses money in the coming years compared to what they would have paid without it.