September 21, 2013

SC business notebook, Sept 21

S.C. insurance department releases health care options; Dorn VA hospital opens new hospice center section; Target to hire fewer seasonal workers; Aflac launches Spanish TV ads

S.C. insurance department releases health care options

The prices for the various plans offered to South Carolinians on the new Health Insurance Marketplace won’t be available until Oct. 1, but the S.C. Department of Insurance at least has released the number of plans available. Consumers will have a choice of 52 different plans from the four companies involved in the Health Insurance Marketplace in the state. But South Carolinians won’t have any choices in the most expensive level. Under the Affordable Care Act, plans will be available nationally on five levels – catastrophic, bronze, silver, gold and platinum. People in the metallic levels will pay from 40 percent out of pocket for bronze plans to 10 percent out of pocket for platinum. But in South Carolina, no platinum plans will be offered. Because premiums would be very high and tax credits very low at the platinum level, health officials expect little demand for that level. There will be eight catastrophic plans, available only for ages 29 and younger; 17 bronze; 17 silver; and 10 gold in South Carolina.

Dorn VA hospital opens new hospice center section

The Dorn Veterans Administration Medical Center in Columbia is scheduled to open a new section of its hospice center. VA spokesman Kevin McIver says Friday morning’s ribbon cutting ceremony was meant to offer a look at the expanded location that provides a special location for veteran’s end-of-life care. The expansion area is dubbed a “Warriors’ Walk,” where doctors, nurses and health care professionals provide palliative care that seeks to ease patients’ pain as they enter the final stage of life. McIver says the medical center provides health care for some 70,000 veterans with its Columbia center and its seven outpatient clinics.

Target to hire fewer seasonal workers

Target plans to hire about 70,000 seasonal workers for the holiday shopping season, down about 20 percent from a year ago. The retailer is aiming to be more efficient in its hiring practices. The move to hire 18,000 fewer temporary holiday workers versus last year’s 88,000 comes as the Minneapolis-based chain saw that its own permanent employees wanted to get first dibs on working extra hours for the holiday season. Target Corp. said it also wants to respond more quickly to the peaks and valleys of customer traffic, which have become more pronounced for many stores as shoppers time their buying for when they believe they can get the best deals.

Aflac launches Spanish TV ads

Supplemental insurer Aflac said it has launched a series of Spanish language commercials featuring its talking duck. The commercials are appearing on TV and radio stations in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Orlando, Puerto Rico, and San Francisco. Aflac said the “Rehearsal” commercial is the third and final spot in its “Out of Work Duck” campaign, which began in January. The campaign, created by Publicis Kaplan Thaler in New York, started out with the heavily bandaged duck, beak included, in the hospital and unable to work. Ads have had the duck seen but not heard as they chronicle his injury, recovery and therapy.

Joey Holleman, The Associated Press and Cox Newspapers contributed.

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