People with individual health care plans should expect spike in cost coming

Arizonans who buy individual insurance plans outside of the Obamacare Marketplace will likely see double-digit premium increases for 2018.

Vicky Elleray has received a premium notice, showing she will have to pay more than $1,200 a month to keep her CIGNA HMO plan. Elleray, a 62-year-old retiree in Ahwatukee, said the plan was purchased in the individual insurance market, and her premium was nearly $500 cheaper in 2017.

"I had a few swear words to say," Elleray said, explaining her reaction when she opened the premium notice.

According to the Arizona Department of Insurance website, two companies are offering only off-Marketplace individual plans in Arizona next year. Both show steep rate increases. CIGNA posts a 62 percent increase, and Freedom Life Insurance Company of America posts a 40 percent increase. Two other companies, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Health Net, offer both Marketplace and non-Marketplace plans, and their average rates are changing just slightly for 2018.

Elleray is now considering whether she should try to save money by joining a faith-based medical cost-sharing group.

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