Obama administration confirms double-digit premium hikes

In this photo taken Oct. 6, 2015, the HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington. The Obama administration says it’s strengthening privacy protections for consumers on the government’s health insurance website ahead of a new sign-up season starting Nov. 1. In a blog Friday, HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan says the web page will have a new ‘privacy manager’ that lets consumers opt out of embedded connections to third-party advertising, analytics and social media sites. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
In this photo taken Oct. 6, 2015, the HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington. The Obama administration says it’s strengthening privacy protections for consumers on the government’s health insurance website ahead of a new sign-up season starting Nov. 1. In a blog Friday, HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan says the web page will have a new ‘privacy manager’ that lets consumers opt out of embedded connections to third-party advertising, analytics and social media sites. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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.

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