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As some big name carriers decide to opt out of the exchangesunder the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, consumersmight be missing out on some much cheaper plans.

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Researchers from HealthPocket, a company that provides healthplan comparisons to consumers, said that a lack of exchangeparticipation by major carriers such as UnitedHealth, Humana, Aetnaand Cigna could be driving up rates an average of 23 percent.

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“Consumers will need to do some additional digging to make surethey evaluate all their insurance options because those highlycompetitive choices may only show up outside an exchange in somestates,” said Kev Coleman, head of research at HealthPocket.

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Aetna recently confirmed its withdrawal from New York'sexchange. The health insurance giant earlier announced decisions tostay out of the 2014 public exchange plan menus in Georgia,Maryland, Ohio and its home state of Connecticut.

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“We believe it is critical that our plans not only becompetitive, but also financially viable,” Aetna said.

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HealthPocket analyzed the health insurance markets of 10 statesand found that carriers not participating in exchanges have, onaverage, 23 percent lower premium rates than their competition.This trend was true for nine of the 10 states examined, raisingquestions about the level of competition within exchanges andpotentially higher cost of the health plans “on exchange” in thesestates.

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Premium discounts ranged from 8 percent in South Dakota to 52percent in Maryland.

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The report reviewed premium prices for a 35-year-old male in1,621 health plans across the 10 states and was based on current2013 data versus the plans sold in 2014 that will be restructuredto comply with PPACA.

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California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, NorthCarolina, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota and Washington wereincluded in the HealthPocket's study.

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