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Florida individual health increases to average 19 percent

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Individual health rates in Florida could increase an average of about 19 percent in 2017, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

Officials at the office say seven carriers could have coverage on the state’s 2017 Affordable Care Act exchange plan menu.

The exchange plan issuers, which all plan to offer the same products in the off-exchange market as well, are on track to increase 2017 rates an average of 11.7 percent to 36.8 percent.

Monthly base premiums will range from $399 to $606. This year, the monthly base premiums range from $337 to $525.

Related: PPACA World 2017: Rates might not be THAT bad

Florida regulators required six of the seven carriers to charge higher prices than they had originally proposed. The only carrier that saw its rate increase reduced was Louisville, Kentucky-based Humana. Florida cut Humana’s proposed increase to 36.8 percent, from 43.6 percent. The company’s base premium will rise to $483, from $406.

This year, the cheapest plan, from Celtic Insurance Company, a unit of St. Louis-based Centene Corp., had a base premium of $337. That company’s base premium will rise $404.

Long Beach, California-based Molina Healthcare is on track to have the lowest base premium, at $399. A consumer in a competitive market who choses the Celtic plan this year and moves to the Molina plan next year could face a premium increase of 18 percent.

Florida also released 2017 rate information for seven issuers that intend to sell coverage only in the off-exchange market.

Monthly base premiums for the off-exchange-only plans could range from $376 to $637, compared with a range of $336 to $636 this year. In the off-exchange market, the rate changes approved range from a decrease of 1.5 percent, for plans from Bloomfield, Connecticut-based Cigna, to an increase of 27.3 percent, for plans from Miami-based AvMed.

The rates are still subject to federal approval, and some of the issuers could withdraw their products before the start of the 2017 open enrollment period, which is set to begin Nov. 1 and last until Jan. 31. Regulators reduced four of those proposed rate increases slightly, and they did not make any of the off-exchange issuers raise premiums more than originally proposed.

Florida uses the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ system to provide exchange plan coverage for its residents.

Florida’s 20 million residents are the biggest buyers of exchange plan coverage. They account for just 6.2 percent of the U.S. population, but 9 percent of them get their coverage from the exchange. About 18 percent of users are Florida residents, and about 14 percent of all ACA Exchange system users are Florida residents.

Florida regulators did not try to show what consumers would pay for coverage after factoring in ACA exchange program premium subsidies. Officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have noted that increases in the full cost of coverage will have little direct effect on what consumers who qualify for the subsidies pay out of pocket for coverage.

Increases in the full premiums affect what HHS pays for the subsidies, but, because exchange plan enrollment has been smaller than expected, and rate increases in 2014, 2015 and 2016 were lower than expected, total HHS premium subsidy spending has been far below what was budgeted, officials say.


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