AUGUSTA — Anthem Health Plans of Maine Inc. is seeking a 1.7 percent overall rate increase for its plans for individuals in 2012, according to a filing with the Maine Bureau of Insurance.

The state’s highest court ruled in February that state regulators were justified last year in cutting a rate-increase request by Anthem. The insurer originally sought a 9.2 percent increase, but that was cut by the Bureau of Insurance to 5.2 percent. Anthem appealed, and lost.

The new requested rates, covering about 11,000 individual policy holders, would take effect July 1. The maximum increase in the filing is 18.2 percent, for people older than 60 with a $15,000 deductible. The maximum decrease is 17.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Insurance.

Anthem projected that it will earn $59.3 million in premiums and pay about $50.8 million in claims, according to the filing. Anthem is seeking a 3 percent profit margin.

Individual health insurance rate increase requests are no longer subject to approval by the Bureau of Insurance, according to the bureau’s website.

If the average rate increase is below 10 percent and the company agrees to spend a certain percentage of each premium dollar on payments of claims, no approval is required. The bureau will, however, review all rates for compliance with Maine law.

Joe Ditre, executive director for Consumers for Affordable Health Care, said, “We believe that the rate filing is excessive, and unfairly discriminatory to older Anthem policy holders, especially those age 60 and over.”

Anthem did not file separate rate requests for each of its products, but instead asked for an overall rate increase for the group of plans.

“Rate increases are considered unreasonable if they exceed 10 percent for a specific product – but how do we know in this case, because the products are combined,” Ditre said.

Officials with Anthem and the Bureau of Insurance could not be reached for comment.

Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

[email protected]