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Florida insurance commissioner predicts health costs to skyrocket next year

FLORIDA   --  Florida's insurance commissioner is predicting health insurance rates will skyrocket next year in the state.

He told the Palm Beach Post he expects rates in the individual market to rise by 30 to 40 % and 5 to 20 % in the Small-Group Market as the Affordable Care Act's guaranteed coverage rule takes effect.
The Small Group Market is one that sells health plans to small businesses.
Commissioner McCarty says there are two main reasons he expects the big increases.
Starting next year, people with pre-existing conditions can no longer be kept from getting health coverage for their conditions in Florida.
Other states have already required insurance companies to make arrangements for those consumers.        
Second, insurers will have to provide a basic minimum plan, which in many cases is more comprehensive than what has been sold in Florida.

Tommy Anderson, Pensacola: "It will affect me greatly."
Folks we spoke with were not happy to hear about Commissioner McCarty's predictions.

"The rates going up you already have to fight tooth and nail right now to even pay a medical bill!"

Cindy McIrvin, Pensacola: "I'll have to come up with it somehow. Whether it's, you know, find another job or an extra job or whatever it takes to do it."
Analysts say subsidies, in the form of tax credits will lessen the impact for most middle-class people.

And they say companies will need young, uninsured people to buy coverage to keep rates affordable for everyone else.

Next year's tax penalty for not buying insurance is 95 dollars per adult.
You can get out of having to pay that in a few ways like if you can't afford coverage or if you've gone without insurance for less than three consecutive months.

McCarty says he does not expect much of an impact on large-group insurance - or plans offered by companies with more than 100 employees.

We reached out to the White House and received this statement from a senior administration official nearly five hours after the story aired: 
“We are consistently seeing in states across the country that premiums are lower than expected.  In 11 states that HHS studied, premiums were on average almost 20% lower than what the Congressional Budget Office projected. We are confident that Florida’s premiums will be affordable, and that consumers will have multiple options in a competitive and transparent marketplace.  When the marketplaces open Oct. 1, consumers will be able to shop for the plan that best fits their budget and needs.  Without releasing the premiums, the statistics released today don’t provide consumers with any information on what they will actually pay in the marketplace.”