Maine Community Health Options, our primary health insurance provider in the state, has been proudly publicizing lower premiums for 2015.

In a newsletter I recently received from MCHO, CEO Kevin Lewis says: “We at Maine Community Health Options lowered our plan premiums by one percent from 2014 to 2015.”

This is not the case for all members. My premium for 2015 increased by 5.4 percent over my 2014 premium for the same plan.

But that’s not all. The maximum out-of-pocket expense also increased from $6,350 to $6,600. Annually, this results in an increase of 8.4 percent in the dollar amount I spend on premiums, deductibles, co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Also, I have not heard Maine Community Health Options justify its donation of $500,000 in grants to outside agencies when its own website states: “All excess premiums are either returned to the CO-OPs members or used to provide higher quality of care.”

My message is this: Consumers and taxpayers, beware. Consider not just premiums, but also co-pays, deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket expenses to determine if Maine Community Health Options has lowered or stabilized health care costs for 2015.

Angela Maniak