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Commissioner Slashes Health Insurance Rate Requests

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Maryland’s insurance commissioner has approved premium rates for individual health insurance plans to be sold through the state’s new health benefits exchange under the Affordable Care Act. 

And they are sharply lower than what the six companies that want to sell health insurance in Maryland had requested.

The commissioner, Therese Goldsmith, said her decision would provide for a “wide variety” to be sold through the exchange, the Maryland Health Connection. Health Secretary JoshuaSharfsteincalled the rates “good news” for the 740,000 uninsuredMarylanderswho will be required to buy health insurance under theACA, also known asObamacare.

In addition, he said, as many as three quarters of the people purchasing insurance through the exchange will qualify for tax credits that will help lower the rates even further.

According to a health department study, the rates are among the lowest of the 12 states that have proposed or approved rates, including New York and California. In Maryland, they range from as low as $93 a month to $335 a month, depending on age and the level of coverage. By comparison, Colorado’s lowest rate is $146 a month and the District of Columbia’s highest rate is $424 a month.

Gary Claxton, a vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, the commissioner made “some pretty significant reductions compared to what the insurers had asked for.” Sharfstein said the reductions came from cutting administrative costs and changing assumptions in how sick people would be when they came into the market.

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Joel McCord is a trumpet player who learned early in life that that’s no way to make a living.