The state insurance commissioner said premiums will rise an average of nearly 16 percent next year for Wisconsin health insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act exchange.

Commissioner Ted Nickel encouraged individuals to explore their health insurance options because of the rate changes and the recent departures of numerous national carriers. Nickel said in a statement the average increase of 15.9 percent for Wisconsinites is lower than many other states.

About 224,000 people in Wisconsin are insured through the exchange as of March.

Nickel doesn't agree with a new policy that allows the federal government to choose health plans for people whose insurers have left the exchange if they don't pick a plan on their own.