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State Releases Rates in Solo Market

Two big changes are coming to the individual market, where consumers pay their own way without help from employers. 

The first: Companies can no longer screen out customers who may have health risks, or exclude coverage for certain conditions or body parts.

The second follows from the first: Premiums will go up sharply for those who buy their own policies, about 30 to 40 percent.

Late Wednesday, after issuing the warning about rate increases on Tuesday, Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation released a report(see chart, p. 3) that shows the 11 plans participating in the individual market for 2014 and what their "silver plan" rates will be. The silver plan is not the least expensive -- that would be the bronze -- but is less expensive than gold or platinum.

The rates range from a low of $315 a month for a Humana HMO to $464 a month for Sunshine State Health Plan. But the Affordable Care Act provides for substantial discounts to many shoppers who have low to moderate incomes.

Only a small fraction of Floridians -- about 850,000 -- have obtained coverage on the individual market in the past. That number is expected to grow, given that insurers can no longer turn people away as of Jan. 1.

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.