- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 26, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Health insurers have proposed rate increases ranging from nearly 8 percent to 22 percent starting in 2018 for thousands of Arkansans covered through the marketplace set up under the federal health care law.

The Insurance Department released the proposed increases on Wednesday and said it has until Aug. 16 to approve rates for the coming year. Gov. Asa Hutchinson praised the increases as among the lowest in the country, and credited the state’s hybrid Medicaid expansion for keeping the increases low.

More than 300,000 are on the program, which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

The average increases proposed were 7.8 percent by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, 9.9 percent by Ambetter, 21.9 percent by QualChoice and 22 percent by QCA Health Plan.

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