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Cost of Individual Coverage to Rise

A study by financial-risk experts that grabbed major headlines Wednesday projects the cost of medical claims in the individual health-insurance market will increase substantially by 2017 because of the Affordable Care Act.

Many of the headlines failed to note that the Society of Actuaries study looks only at the individual commercial market -- in which people buy their own policies and must pass a medical screening -- so it applies to only a small minority of those covered. Most Americans get their coverage through group plans.

In Florida, less than 10 percent of people with insurance buy individual policies.

The claims cost in the individual market is projected to rise because companies will no longer be able to screen out individuals who have a history of health problems or sell policies that rule out coverage for pre-existing conditions.

The study projects the three-year cost increase in Florida at 26.5 percent. It forecasts a 32 percent average increase nationwide.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.