March 24, 2014
Maine lobstermen seemed a likely group to sign up for health care coverage under President 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 sign-up 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.