HealthDay News — Consumers are likely to find insurance options more plentiful and more affordable than expected in the new Health Insurance Marketplace that goes into effect Oct. 1, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A new report from the agency suggests that increased competition will drive premiums down, allowing consumers who formerly could not afford quality health insurance to purchase good plans. Most consumers will be able to choose between two or more different health insurance companies, at premiums about 16% less than originally expected.

When the exchanges go into effect next Tuesday, individuals will be able to compare and choose between health plans and find out if they are eligible for tax credits. Plans will be categorized as gold, silver, or bronze depending on the share of costs covered, and young people can opt for a catastrophic plan.

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“We are excited to see that rates in the Marketplace are even lower than originally projected,” Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a statement. “In the past, consumers were too often denied or priced-out of quality health insurance options, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act consumers will be able to choose from a number of new coverage options at a price that is affordable.”

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