COLUMBIA, SC — With fewer than three weeks left to sign up for the Health Insurance Marketplace for 2014, efforts to help people through the process are ramping up.
Under the Affordable Care Act, many people who don’t have health insurance by March 31 this year will face tax penalties of the larger of $95 or 1 percent of their income in 2015. People with income below the poverty level – about $11,500 – are exempt from the tax penalty in South Carolina because the state turned down Medicaid expansion.
BlueCross BlueShield of S.C. will have representatives at CVS Pharmacy stores and community events throughout the state through the end of the month. They will answer questions and help potential customers enroll in the federal marketplace set up by the Affordable Care Act.
The BlueCross representatives will aim you to the BlueCross and BlueChoice policies, but there also are two other providers offering policies on the marketplace – Consumers’ Choice Health Plan and Coventry.
In the Midlands, several groups have received federal grants to provide trained navigators. Anyone interested in signing up through those groups should contact them to set up an appointment. Call The Cooperative Ministry at (803) 799-3853, the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council at (803) 733-1129, the S.C. Progressive Network at (803) 445-1921 or the Benefit Bank of S.C. at (800) 726-8774.
Also, trained navigators are available at Richland Library’s main branch at 1431 Assembly St. in Columbia 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 12:30-4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. And if a branch library is more convenient for you, call Lee Patterson at (803) 231-6383 to arrange a time to meet a navigator at a branch.
For last-minute shoppers, a major enrollment event is set for 9 a.m.-1 p.m. March 29 at the Main Library along Assembly.
BlueCross is aiming to make the process as easy as possible by sending representative to towns large and small in the coming weeks. For a full list of times and places, go online to http://web.south carolinablues.com/newsroom /2014newsreleases.aspx? article_id=563.
In the Midlands, the company plans to travel to CVS locations in Aiken, Ballentine, Camden and Columbia. BlueCross also has a retail store along Bower Parkway in the Harbison area of Columbia.