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Nov 18, 11:27 PM EST

Health insurance premiums political lightning rod


MIAMI (AP) -- As the second enrollment period for health insurance under the federal health law gets underway, critics and supporters are seizing on premium prices.

Premiums are politically controversial and both sides have used data to bolster their argument. Critics say premium increases signal the Affordable Care Act isn't working, but health insurance rates have risen as much as 20 or 30 percent in recent years.

State officials have said consumers could expect an average premium increase of 13 percent in 2015. But the feds pointed out that a 40-year old Floridian making $30,000 per year who bought the second-lowest silver plan in 2014 and does the same in 2015 will pay slightly less after tax credits in 2015. The majority of Floridians purchased silver plans. The second-lowest cost silver plan is especially popular because it's the benchmark plan to calculate subsidies.

An Associated Press analysis found that average monthly premiums for mid-range health insurance plans increased as much as 20 percent in Florida with the biggest increases seen in rural areas. But South Florida saw only meager increases and premiums decreased ever so slightly in Miami-Dade County.

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A previous version of this story reported that 75 percent of Floridians live in areas where the second-lowest-cost silver premium plan will actually decline, but federal officials now say that statistic is outdated. They did not offer an updated number.

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