Ohio rates, services to increase under health law

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Health insurance rates in Ohio will rise an average of 18 percent for small businesses and 41 percent for individuals participating in the new marketplaces created by the federal health care law, state insurance officials said Thursday.

The details were the first glimpse of what Ohioans could see should they purchase private insurance in the exchanges created by President Barack Obama's health care law.

The increases in rates are partly due to consumers receiving more benefits under the plans than previously available.

Individuals can get private health insurance, subsidized by the federal government, through the exchange. Open enrollment starts Oct. 1, and coverage takes effect in January.

Republican Gov. John Kasich chose to let Washington operate the exchange, instead of having the state set up its own.

The state's insurance department said the figures don't take into account any government help that Ohioans could get to pay for their coverage.

State regulators approved 200 plans from 12 companies for the individual market and 184 plans from six companies for the small business market.

The number of plans available to consumers will differ by region, the department said. But small businesses should have two to three plans to pick from while individuals could choose from at least four plans.

The state's insurance department calculated the increase in rates by taking the average cost of premiums for all the plans in the exchange, and then comparing them to the average premiums of all plans available in the state at the end of 2012.

The agency's analysis found that the current average monthly cost for individuals was $236.29, compared with an expected average rate of $332.58 next year. The current average monthly rate for small businesses was $341.03, which the state expects to go up to $401.99 next year.

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