By Associated Press - Friday, September 5, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska customers who buy individual policies under the federal Affordable Care Act will likely see big increases in their health insurance premiums next year, though group rates aren’t expected to go up as much.

The company, the state’s dominant carrier, is predicting members statewide will see average premium increase of 8 to 9 percent next year, the Lincoln Journal Star reported ( ). The company said some employer groups and people who have a Medicare supplement will not see their monthly rates go up and may even see them decrease.

Nearly 80 percent of the company’s business in the state is in the group market.

But people who bought individual policies under the federal Affordable Care Act in 2014 could see premium increases averaging 19.5 percent for 2015. The company says that’s because of a variety of factors, including required expanded benefits, higher use of medical services, and insurance rating pools.

“We realize that the premium increase on the individual side of our business is substantial, and we don’t want to create undue hardship on our customers,” said Dan Alm, vice president of Blue Cross Blue Shield Nebraska. “However, the medical losses we are seeing on individual plans, which are driven by usage of medical services and costs of those services, are some of the highest we have seen in years.”

The Nebraska Department of Insurance has posted a preliminary rate chart for plans that are expected to be sold through the federally facilitated marketplace to people not covered by workplace plans. Aside from Blue Cross Blue Shield, the department shows CoOportunity’s rates going up an average of 10.7 percent, Time’s up an average of 16 percent, and Coventry’s down an average of 3.4 percent. Time didn’t sell on the exchange in 2014. The rates must be reviewed by federal authorities and will vary depending on several factors.

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