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Oklahoma Insurance Rates Through Affordable Care Act Up 35 Percent, Highest In Nation

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

If you are one of 110,000 Oklahomans who gets their insurance through Obamacare, you're likely in for some sticker shock.

According to the government, rates in Oklahoma are up an average of 35 percent. That’s the highest in the nation. 

Open enrollment begins Nov. 1, but right now Oklahomans can go on the Heathcare.gov website and see what their rates will be next year.

Fred Imel is a CPA and self-employed. So he's been buying insurance on Healthcare.gov. 

About a month ago, his provider Blue Cross/Blue Shield said they were discontinuing his plan. 

Then Wednesday, he learned his premiums would be going up from $1,100 per month for his family of three to $1,700 a month. The accountant quickly did the numbers and that's about $20,000 a year for health insurance.

“The first job when I got out of school was $16,500 folks. You know that’s a lot of money,” he quipped.

In addition to the rate increases, two Oklahoma providers: GlobalHealth and Community Care dropped out of the exchange. Current members of GlobalHealth, which includes many state employees, will not be affected by the company's decision. UnitedHealthcare joined but that still only leaves two options.

“The companies that have withdrawn from the marketplace made a strategic decision that this was not working for them financially,” said Mike Rhoads, Deputy Commissioner of Health and Life for the Oklahoma Insurance Department.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield says they actually lost money the last two years as well because the premiums they were charging were not enough to cover the higher than expected claims. So this year they had to adjust.

Rhodes points out, for about 80 percent of Oklahomans, those increases will be partly offset by government subsidies.

“With a subsidy, people will find a very affordable health insurance plan,” Rhoads said.

But Imel said he doesn't qualify for a government subsidy. So now, he'll be shopping around outside of the government exchange.

Rhoads said the number of uninsured Oklahomans has dropped. Now, about 15 percent of Oklahomans don't have health insurance.  

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