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Exchange plans could cost less than expected

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Typical exchange plan rates are lower than expected. 

That’s the word from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which highlighted the new information in a report Thursday.

Eleven states have released rates for next year for their plans sold under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s exchanges.  

HHS analysts found that the average cost of a silver plan in the individual market exchanges will be about 18 percent less than what HHS had estimated, based on early predictions from the Congressional Budget Office.

Six states have published 2014 small-group market price data.

There, the administration estimated that the lowest-cost silver plan will be 18 percent less expensive in 2014, on average, than a comparable plan would cost if the pre-PPACA rules were still in effect.

PPACA calls for HHS to work with states to make exchanges, or health insurance supermarkets, available to individuals and small groups in all 50 states and the District of Columbia by Oct. 1.

The exchanges are supposed to sell four “metal levels” of coverage — bronze, silver, gold and platinum — along with high-deductible catastrophic plans aimed at workers who cannot qualify for PPACA subsidies but have a hard time paying for low-deductible bronze plans.

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