Local individuals buying health insurance this month during the open enrollment period could be in for a shock. Not only are rates higher, but only one company is offering individual plans in most area counties.

Open enrollment begins Nov. 1 and will run for 45 days, half of the 90-days it has run in the past.

Ambetter insurance company is the only firm offering individual health insurance in Jackson, Gwinnett, Madison and Barrow counties this year while Alliant is the only firm in Banks and Hall counties. Blue Cross, Aetna and Kaiser plans are no longer available in those counties for individuals.

While the national debate for the Affordable Care Act continues, the uncertainty that debate has created is pushing up rates while also narrowing options for individuals. There have been some executive actions on the ACA, but individuals are still mandated to buy health insurance this year either individually, or through an employer, or face a penalty.

According to healthinsurance.org, the average rate increase in the ACA individual market this year in Georgia will be 31.5 percent, assuming government subsidies for lower income individuals continues.

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