AUGUSTA — The state board that regulates health insurance rates is holding a public hearing today beginning at 9 a.m. in Room 214 of the Cross Office Building at the State Capitol.

Ratepayers will have a chance to tell Maine Bureau of Insurance regulators how they feel about a proposal from Anthem to raise its rates by an average of 22.9 percent. More than 11,000 policy holders in the state would be affected by the rate increase.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield wants to increase rates for its HealthChoice and Lumenos programs. Anthem bought the nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield provider in 2000. The company made $75 million in profits in 2007 in Maine alone, according to Consumers for Affordable Health Care, which advocates for lower rates.

Like other insurance companies, Anthem must justify its rate increases to the bureau. In 2009, Anthem proposed an average increase of 18.1 percent, then sued the state when regulators only agreed to a 10.9 percent increase that took effect for more than 12,000 policyholders July 1, 2009.

Both sides made oral arguments in the Cumberland County Superior Court March 24, and are waiting for a ruling.

Company executives said last month that general operating costs have increased 6 to 8 percent in the past year and that new treatments and medicines have increased costs that much again.

Comments on this year’s proposed hikes can also be emailed to the bureau at [email protected] The bureau will take public input until Friday at 5 p.m.

Ethan Wilensky-Lanford — 620-7016

[email protected]