I recently received a letter from my health insurance company, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, stating that I could provide comments to the Maine State Bureau of Insurance regarding a July 27 hearing in Augusta on Harvard Pilgrim’s proposed rate hike of 39.7 percent.

I took the company up on it and thought I’d suggest others do so as well, regardless of their insurer. I am confident everyone is facing similarly outrageous rate hikes.

Harvard Pilgrim cites several factors: health care costs rising faster than the general rate of inflation, increased prescription drug costs and “developments in the implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act.” I feel for the company, but it seems that it is undeniably and quietly passing the buck to customers.

I asked Bureau of Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa to ask Harvard Pilgrim to identify all steps taken to reduce its costs and to see if there is more that it can do. I’m aware of the volatility of health care discussions on the federal level and the vulnerability of the ACA, but having this fall squarely on the backs of customers is unconscionable.

If all of that isn’t enough to make you ill, Harvard Pilgrim further stated it “cannot commit to (its) participation in the individual Maine HMO market in 2018 and beyond.” How many people will that affect?

A 39.7 percent increase, or whatever that will settle to (wow, only 35 percent? 30 percent?!) is unfathomable. Can you afford that?

If you have gotten a similar letter from your health insurer, take the time to write a letter to Eric Cioppa or email [email protected]. It can’t hurt.

Susan A. Bloomfield

West Kennebunk

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