BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland has given 13 carriers permission to sell health benefit plans to small businesses through the state’s public exchange, officials said Tuesday.

The Maryland Insurance Administration also has approved the carriers’ Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchange plan rates.

The premium rates approved for 2014 range from 4.9 percent lower to 14.6 percent higher than the rates for small-group products the carriers have been selling this year, officials said.

The monthly premium for a 40-year-old, non-smoker in a mid-level, silver plan will range from $208 to $435.

A silver plan pays about 70 percent of the cost of covered services.

The Maryland Health Connection’s SHOP plans will be open to businesses with two to 50 full-time equivalent employees.

Enrollment in the exchange opens Jan. 1, with coverage beginning on or after March 1.

The approved carriers are: Aetna Health Inc.; Aetna Life Insurance Co.; CareFirst BlueChoice Inc.; CareFirst of Maryland Inc.; Coventry Health and Life Co.; Coventry Health Care of Delaware Inc.; Evergreen Health Cooperative; Group Hospitalization and Medical Services Inc.; Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic; MAMSI Life and Health Insurance Co.; Optimum Choice Inc.; UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co.; and UnitedHealthcare of the Mid-Atlantic Inc.

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