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WASHINGTON (AP) – Health care insurance customers could be in for some sticker shock over next year’s prices now that the Trump administration says it’s freezing payments under an “Obamacare” program that protects insurers with sicker patients from financial losses.

The move is expected to add to premium increases next year. At stake are billions of dollars in payments to insurers with sicker customers.

Officials said Saturday that the administration is acting because of conflicting rulings in lawsuits filed by some smaller insurers who question whether they’re being fairly treated.

The program takes payments from insurers with healthier customers and redistributes the money to companies with sicker enrollees. No taxpayer subsidies are involved.

The idea is to remove the financial incentive for insurers to “cherry-pick” healthier customers. Medicare private insurance plans also use the strategy.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)