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DirigoChoice, Maine's health plan designed to help small businesses and uninsured individuals obtain affordable, quality health coverage, has reported strong enrollment through March. A collaborative between Maine's Dirigo Health Agency and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maine, DirigoChoice has 5,263 members, representing more than 400 small businesses and 1,200 self-employed individuals, as of April 1. Coverage for small businesses and the self-employed took effect January 1, 2005 and benefits for individuals without access to job-based coverage began April 1, 2005. DirigoChoice offers comprehensive benefits with full coverage for preventive care services. Enrollees with family income up to 300% of the federal poverty level receive discounts (up to 100%) on premiums and deductibles, based on a sliding scale.

In early May, the state announced that Dirigo Health will provide coverage for families earning up to 200% of the federal poverty level, up from the previous limit of 150%. In announcing the news, Governor John Baldacci said that by expanding coverage, the state will save an estimated $10 million in charity care and bad debt for those who previously had no health insurance.

DirigoChoice is one part of Maine's Dirigo Health Reform Act. Dirigo Health includes initiatives to control health care costs, improve quality, and achieve universal access to coverage in Maine by 2009. See: Expanding Health Coverage: Maine's Dirigo Health Reform Act; Designing Maine's DirigoChoice Benefit Plan; and Dirigo Health Reform Act: Addressing Health Care Costs, Quality, and Access in Maine.

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