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Correction: Health Overhaul-Lobstermen story

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 27, 2014 at 2:52 pm •  Published: March 27, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — In a story March 22 about how Maine lobstermen are responding to the federal health insurance law, The Associated Press erroneously reported on factors considered when determining subsidies for insurance policies. Assets, including the boats lobstermen own, do not factor into the determination of subsidies.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Health law a lifeline for some Maine lobstermen

Federal health law a lifeline for some Maine lobstermen while others choose to go without


Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine lobstermen seemed a likely group to sign up for health care coverage under President Barack Obama's landmark law.

They face such job hazards as getting tangled in traps and dragged into the ocean. Ever present is the possibility of injury from the physically demanding labor. And in a field made up of independent contractors, there are no companies providing insurance, so many are uninsured.

So over the past several months, advocates set about educating lobstermen and their families about the law, listening to their concerns and signing up hundreds of the 5,000 or so lobstermen who work off the coast of Maine for insurance through the marketplaces created under the law. That signup rate is seen as a win by the advocates, who say many more have likely enrolled without their knowledge.

"The response from our outreach has been very, very good," said Brian Delaney, a spokesman for Fishing Partnership Support Services, an organization working in Maine that was responsible for reducing the percentage of uninsured fishermen in Massachusetts from 40 to 10 in just one year more than a decade ago.

In Maine, the split between those signing up and those who aren't is roughly the same as in other industries and other parts of the country. Older, sicker workers with families are paying for insurance plans, while younger lobstermen tend to go without, as are those who said cost was a concern, according to interviews with more than a dozen lobstermen and advocates who've worked with hundreds more.

Some lobstermen found they qualified for improved plans.

"It's better than any insurance that I've have in the last 30 years," said Arnold Gamage, a 61-year-old lobsterman from South Bristol who stopped paying for health insurance last year because, with an estimated annual salary of $60,000, he could no longer afford a plan that covered heart medication he needs.

His new plan, through one of the two providers on Maine's insurance marketplace, costs $480 a month, compared with the $780 he paid before. The deductible for him and his wife was cut in half, to $5000.

Delaney's group and the Maine Lobstermen's Association have spoken to 1,600 lobstermen and their spouses at more than 70 events. They estimate they have signed up several hundred lobstermen directly, though it is not clear how many of those people were already insured. Neither group tracked that figure.

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