ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Individual health insurance rates in Maryland under the Affordable Care Act are dropping for the third consecutive year.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that Maryland Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Birrane has approved an average 11.9% premium rate decrease for individual insurance plans with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2021.

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The Hogan administration says the lower rates reflect the impact of the State Reinsurance Program. It helped stabilize the individual health insurance market after years of major premium increases.

The cumulative three-year impact is a rate decrease of 31.4%, compared to 2018 premiums.

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The state was facing rate increases of up to 50% in 2018, when state lawmakers and the governor approved legislation to create a state reinsurance program.

Reinsurance provides a safety net for insurers by helping to pay large claims.

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