By Robert Kittle

If you live in South Carolina and buy your own health insurance, instead of getting it through your employer, your rates are likely to go up 50 to 70 percent under the Affordable Care Act, according to the South Carolina Department of Insurance.

Twelve health insurance companies submitted to the agency plans for offering coverage, with four wanting to offer coverage through the national health care exchange and eight wanting to offer it outside of the exchange. The department announced the expected increase after studying the plans.

SC Director of Insurance Ray Farmer says the size of the increase will vary based on your age, smoking status, which company you choose and the specifics of the coverage. Some increases could be as small as 2 percent, while some people could see an increase of 162 percent.

"Overall, we expect to see average rates increase by 50-70% in the individual market and 10-20% in the small group market," Farmer says. "That is going to depend on the individual, and each consumer really won't be able to know what he or she will be charged until they go online after October 1st to put in their personal information on the federal government website."

That website,, explains the new coverage options. The site also gives details on the fact that some people will qualify to get a tax benefit or subsidized amount to pay for the health coverage.

You can also call toll-free 1-800-318-2596.

Farmer says the reason rates will be going up is because of the new mandates in the law, including the fact that everyone can get coverage and pre-existing conditions have to be covered.

South Carolina opted out of setting up its own health care exchange. Farmer says rates would not be lower if the state had set up its own. Kentucky, which is similar in size to South Carolina, is setting up its own and will spend $182 million to get it up and running, but Farmer says rates there won't likely be any different than in South Carolina.

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