Under the Affordable Care Act, everyone will be required to have health insurance in 2014 or pay a penalty. Some people with low incomes will be eligible for tax deductions to pay for the insurance purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
GETTING ANSWERS: If you have questions about how the Health Insurance Marketplace will impact you, the easiest place to find answers is online at healthcare.gov. If you prefer to talk through your options with a real person, you can call the federal call centers at (800) 318-2596.
NEXT UP: The Health Insurance Marketplace opens on Oct. 1. A little more than 1 million South Carolinians — between 20 and 25 percent of the population — who either are uninsured or buy individual policies on their own can begin punching their income, family size and other details into online tools to determine their health insurance choices and potential costs.
South Carolina opted not to form its own exchange, so our choices are four companies that applied for the federal Health Insurance Marketplace in South Carolina. Among those four, there will be four levels of coverage — bronze, silver, gold and platinum. If you choose the cheapest — bronze — you’re gambling that you won’t have any major medical problems. The system is set up to aim most people to the silver and gold policies.
Insurance brokers also will be certified to help you choose among the 50-plus plans at the four levels. For those comfortable with online registration, there’s another option. Healthaviator.com offers online chats with brokers.
The vast majority of people on corporate group policies will not find a better deal on the Health Insurance Marketplace than their group policies. If you are on a group policy and are curious, you might want to wait a few days after Oct. 1 to go online and calculate your possible marketplace rates. The system will be backed up those first few days.
Here are links to the stories we’ve written about the ACA’s move into South Carolina.
BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina unveiled a 40-foot-long Safari Cheetah RV wrapped in its company name and logo that will travel the state to sign people up for health insurance. Click here to find out more.
The ACA is designed to help the underinsured and uninsured get coverage. About 80 percent of SC’s population will not have to change policies or pay more in monthly premiums. Click here for an interactive guide to help you understand whether your coverage will change.
Starting in October, you might be able to sign up for health insurance at a folding table outside your grocery store, in the waiting room at your hospital emergency department or at church functions. Navigators will help guide people through what’s called the Health Insurance Marketplace. Click here to find out how navigators will work with you.
If you get insurance through your employer, should you consider opting out and trying to get insurance through the ACA? Click here to consider the pros and cons.
What does South Carolina’s decision to reject Medicaid expansion mean for SC’s poor and working poor? Click here to learn how about 284,000 uninsured people in the state currently making less than $11,000, and, tens of thousands working poor, who are eligible for subsidized health insurance, would struggle to pay for it while people in similar financial situations in other states would be eligible for Medicaid.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 decision on healthcare expansion, and what it means to you. Click here for a handy question and answer about the decision.