Financially strapped students can no longer get coverage through the university system, leaving many in the lurch.

By Isabel Ruffin – Special to the Portland Press Herald

There is already substantial blood on the hands of America’s broken healthcare system. Barring any large societal change, the livelihood of the American people will soon be in grave jeopardy. A jeopardy, I fear, is teetering on the brink of crisis as we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am just an average 25-year-old graduate student working two jobs and navigating the consistent challenge year-to-year of securing somewhat-decent health coverage without breaking the bank. Last July, my university wrote to us: “In response to student concerns related to the cost of student health insurance.

Now, you might hope the sentence that followed would’ve been: “We have found a more affordable option.” Instead, the university was removing the insurance requirement altogether….

… Last October, a survey was conducted in Maine that focused on health care affordability. The data is stark and alarming. What stuck out the most to me is that 80% of Mainers are worried about affording health care in the future and 63% had difficulty affording care presently. This was true across income levels. Younger Maine residents faced the most burdens of all surveyed age groups. Additionally, across party lines, these are burdens that Mainers are seeking to resolve.

What’s abundantly clear is that we have a huge problem to face. The people of Maine need a cultural shift in the way that the state approaches and thinks about the accessibility, affordability and availability of robust mental and physical care before the problem’s severity far outweighs our collective capacity to produce solutions.

When everyday Mainers – like myself – are having to make the choice between paying rent on time or receiving necessary care; it’s [past] time to take action…

The people of Maine are on ventilators – literally and figuratively – fighting for our lives. At some point – literally and figuratively – those ventilators will run out. When they inevitably do, the lives of real, Maine people will be, and have already been, lost. These people matter. They always mattered. It’s the system that didn’t value them to begin with.

So, Gov. Janet Mills and the Maine Legislature, here’s what I have to say: the clock is ticking. How long until it times out?

Maine AllCare responds: Our students, and all Mainers for that matter, shouldn’t have daily healthcare insecurity. #healthcareinsecurity #M4AMe #Mainecandobetter