The various groups in the Midlands helping people navigate the new Health Insurance Marketplace will be busy starting Oct. 1.
About 100,000 people in Lexington and Richland counties will need to sign up for the new Health Insurance Marketplace in the next six months, according to Census Bureau estimates.
The Census Bureau estimates that 50,613 people in Richland County and 46,417 in Lexington County were uninsured in 2011. Almost all of them will be required to have health insurance in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. Add in the people who pay for their own insurance now and could find a better deal on the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, and the marketplace will have to handle more than 100,000 new policies next year.
Here are some other interesting tidbits from the census report:
• As might be expected, the most populous counties had the most uninsured people. Greenville had by far the most – 75,781. But Horry, with the sixth largest population, was No. 2 in terms of uninsured with 58,806. That likely reflects the large number of uninsured in service industry jobs on the coast. Charleston was No. 3 with 57,179 uninsured.
• Jasper had the highest percentage of uninsured – 27.4 percent. Horry was just behind at 26.2, with Saluda next at 25.5.
• Richland had the lowest percentage of uninsured – 15.9 percent. York County was second at 17.0 and Dorchester third at 17.1.
• The Census Bureau estimated 755,487 in South Carolina were uninsured, 19.4 percent of the population. That’s a lot of people to sign up for new health insurance policies in the next six months. Because the Affordable Care Act allows a three-month lapse of coverage during the year, the true deadline to have coverage and avoid a penalty is March 31.
Many groups are preparing to help people through the process of signing up, or those with internet access can simply go to healthcare.gov and sign up on their own.