230,211 South Carolinians signed up for comprehensive health coverage under the Affordable Care Act for 2017. Since the ACA’s inception, South Carolina’s uninsured rate has dropped from 18.7% in 2013 to 12.3% in 2016.
Government advertisements have proven pivotal to enrollment in the past. “When the new administration cancelled the ads, our signupSC network ramped up its efforts to get the word out there,” said Shelli Quenga, Palmetto Project’s Director of Programs, “It really helped because we found out today that South Carolina only saw a 0.7% decrease in enrollment compared to 2016.”
The Affordable Care Act helps people like Austin Koester, 21, Charleston, who works part-time at a local university as technical staff, “The reason I keep going to my primary care doctor is to make sure I’m staying healthy…I can have healthcare and not have to be worried, which has definitely been a blessing to me.” Like many others, Austin is worried about the possible repeal of the ACA. Shelli Quenga shared Palmetto Project’s position, “We’ve been fighting for access to affordable and quality healthcare for 30 years. If there’s a better version of the ACA out there, we’re interested to hear what it is.”
In the meantime, enrollment specialists continue to sign people up for Marketplace health insurance. Almost 9 out of 10 people in South Carolina qualify for financial assistance to lower the cost of their premiums. 69% also qualify for cost-sharing reductions that lower South Carolinians’ out-of-pocket maximums and deductibles as well as cut co-pays or coinsurance for prescription drugs, office visits, hospitalizations, and other procedures.
Consumers who were covered by BlueChoice last year qualify for a special enrollment period until the end of February. Any South Carolinian who wants to meet with an in-person enrollment assister can schedule a free appointment. Residents can call signupSC toll-free at 1-888-998-4646 or visit www.palmettoproject.org.