PHOENIX — The only seller of Affordable Care Act individual health insurance policies in 13 rural Arizona counties says it won’t raise premiums next year after all.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Vice President Jeff Stelnik said Tuesday that the company will instead decrease rates by about 1 percent across all its individual plans in 2018. That’s a change from an average 7.2 percent increase initially proposed in July.

Stelnik tells The Associated Press the change came because of improved profitability on current plans and an assumption that the federal government will continue funding a program reducing some customer costs.

Blue Cross sells individual marketplace plans in all but Maricopa and Pima County covering about 45,000 people. Health Net sells in those two counties and is seeking a 5 percent increase.

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BOB CHRISTIE
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