Most in S.C. will be able to renew health policies

jholleman@thestate.comDecember 3, 2013 

Most of the thousands of South Carolinians who got cancellation notices about their health insurance policies in recent months will get a chance to renew those policies for another year.

The policies were canceled because they didn’t meet requirements of the Affordable Care Act. But recent changes in the implementation of the law gave insurance companies the option to continue those noncompliant policies for a year.

In South Carolina, insurance companies had until the end of the day Monday to notify the Department of Insurance they planned to allow those policy-holders to renew.

No detailed statistics are available on how many policies were impacted because insurance companies aren’t required to provide that information to the state insurance regulators. But Department of Insurance director Ray Farmer estimated 150,000 policy holders would be affected.

BlueCross BlueShield of SC and BlueChoice Health Plan, which handle the majority of the policies in the state, announced they will allow extensions of their policies.

“The state’s Department of Insurance stepped up with quick and decisive guidance,” said David Pankau, BlueCross president and CEO. “Allowing our non-grandfathered members the option of renewing their existing plans for one year is the right thing to do. The additional choice supports our members by giving them more time to prepare for ACA-related changes in the marketplace.”

BlueCross and BlueChoice are sending out letters this week to those policyholders, telling them they can keep their current health coverage. Customers also can check on healthcare.gov to see if they want to switch to ACA-compliant policies that likely will provide more comprehensive coverage.

Those ACA-compliant policies likely would be more expensive, but many South Carolinians would be eligible for tax credits to cover some of those expenses.

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