Obama administration confirms double-digit premium hikes

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WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration is confirming that premiums will go up sharply next year for health insurance sold to millions of consumers through HealthCare.gov.

Before taxpayer-provided subsidies, premiums for a midlevel benchmark plan will increase an average of 25 percent across states served by the federally run online market.

The number of insurers serving the federal market will drop from 232 to 167, a loss of about 28 percent.

Administration officials say that despite the sobering numbers, subsidies designed to rise alongside premiums will insulate most customers from sticker shock. And they add that consumers who are willing to shop for a cheaper plan will still be able to find bargains.

Sign-up season starts Nov. 1, and window-shopping for plans and premiums is already available.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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