By Pat Loeb


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period begins next week customers will see some changes, including fewer choices and higher prices.

In Pennsylvania, the number of insurers in the marketplace has gone from 13 to eight. In Philadelphia, just two insurers are left and premiums are expected to rise 53 percent.

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Aviva Aron-Dine of Health and Human Services says the size of the hike reflects artificially low rates early on. Pennsylvania had among the lowest rates in the nation.

“Issuers were pricing for a completely new market, one where they could no longer exclude those with the most serious health needs,” she said, “many set prices that turned out to be too low.”

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But Aron-Dine maintains the plans are still affordable, since three-quarters of Pennsylvanians qualify for tax credits.

“Not only do tax credits bring down the cost of coverage, they adjust dollar for dollar with the cost of the benchmark plan in your area,” she explained. “So even if the cost of benchmark coverage goes up, most consumers will not have to pay more.

Aron-Dine claims costs could even go down if consumers take the time to shop for a cheaper plan. She says new features on the healthcare.gov website will make that easier to do.

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