CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Insurance Commission approved rate increases for Highmark West Virginia and CareSource Insurance’s services sold in the “Obamacare” exchange.

MetroNews learned Tuesday premiums for Highmark West Virginia will increase by 25.6 percent, while CareSource Insurance will have a 19.6-percent increase in its rate.

Eight-five percent of the around 25,000 residents who received health care through the exchange last year received a government subsidy, but those who did not saw a 32-percent increase in monthly premiums.

Highmark said in October 2016 the increase was needed because of a sicker customer base.

Then-state Insurance Commissioner Mike Riley said at the time West Virginia’s aging population also played a factor, adding he did not see rates falling given the number of insurance companies involved in the exchange.

“We’re at a position where we have to stabilize the market,” Riley said. “Until rates became adequate there’s not going to be a whole lot of people interested in jumping in.”

Gov. Jim Justice appointed Allan McVey in February to serve as the current insurance commissioner.

Highmark offers services in all 55 counties. CareSource offered services to 32 counties this year.

Open enrollment for 2018 begins Nov. 1.

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