As the health care debate continues to heat up, we continue to learn more about states that decided to take on a public option. The Wall Street Journal’s article “No Maine Miracle Cure” describes Maine’s failed public option healthcare plan. In 2003, Maine enacted a government run health system under Democratic Governor John Baldacci. “DirigoChoice,” Maine’s public option was originally paid for by $50 million in federal stimulus. Of course, knowing that money would eventually run out, Maine’s government expected to pay for it by health care savings derived from this plan.

The program did little to cover all of Maine’s citizens. In fact, about two-thirds of Mainers on DirigoChoice already had health insurance. Instead of the projected 128,000 uninsured citizens involved in the program, there are only 3,400 who now have health insurance. Under the program, premiums have risen 74%. A healthy male in Maine who is 30 and single pays a monthly premium of $762 in the individual market; in New Hampshire he would only pay $222 a month. 

Despite these higher premiums, the government still cannot afford the program. Maine’s government recently raised taxes to pay for the program, an initiative it promised would not be necessary. The failure of government health care is not limited to Maine’s case. Massachusetts has a plan that it can no longer afford. Wisconsin’s BadgerCare is experiencing similar financial problems. TennCare is strapped for cash. 

Does anyone else see the similarities between these initiatives and ObamaCare?