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Rates to rise average of 4% for California health exchange in 2016

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Health insurance plan rates will rise an average of 4% next year in California's health insurance exchange, state officials announced Monday.

That 4% hike in the exchange, known as Covered California, compares with a similar 4.2% increase in 2015.

“This is another year of good news for California's consumers and further evidence that the Affordable Care Act is working,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said in a statement. “Covered California is holding the line on rates and keeping coverage within reach of hundreds of thousands of consumers, while giving them more choices than ever before,” he added.

Still, premium increases will vary widely by region. For example, in Southern California, individuals who remain in the same plan will see premiums rise by an average of 1.8% in 2016, while in Northern California those remaining in the same plan will be hit with rate increases averaging 7%.

“Health care is local, and as good as these average premium changes are across the state, it is important to look locally at each region,” Mr. Lee said.

Earlier this year, federal officials reported that Covered California had 1.36 million enrollees, making it the largest state-run exchange created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the second largest — topped only by the Florida exchange's 1.42 million enrollees — of all ACA-authorized exchanges.