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Remaining insurers in health market to hike rates 50 percent

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The two remaining health insurers in Arizona’s federal health marketplace will both be raising rates by more than 50 percent next year.

The Arizona Department of Insurance approved both plans for 2017 from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and the Centene Corps., The Arizona Republic reported (http://bit.ly/2e1APL4).

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona will be available in every county except Maricopa and will increase on average by 51 percent. Maricopa County’s only option is Centene Corps.’ “Ambetter” plan, which is set to increase by 74.5 percent. Only Pima County residents will have a choice of marketplace insurers, with both Centene/Ambetter and Blue Cross Blue Shield available.

The amount customers pay will vary depending on factors like age, coverage levels and income, which determine whether an individual qualifies for subsidies to help offset the cost of monthly premiums. Nearly 70 percent of Arizona residents who purchase insurance from the health care marketplace receive subsidized coverage.

The Department of Insurance said a 40-year-old single Maricopa County resident who does not use tobacco would be charged an average rate of $475 per month for a mid-tier plan before subsidies. A 40-year-old couple with two children would pay $1,422 per month for a family plan before subsidies.

The enrollment period for the health insurance marketplace opens Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 31, 2017.

The approved plans come after six health insurance companies announced they would leave Arizona’s marketplace in 2017, with some companies citing financial losses as the reason for their exit.

Despite the changes, advocates for the Affordable Care Act still say the marketplace is effective.

“Arizonans do have the ability to get covered with health insurance at affordable rates for the upcoming year,” said Diane Brown, executive director of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.

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