Statewide Network Provides Assistance to SC Residents Facing Feb. 15 Enrollment Deadline

accent-people-at-desk2Local certified navigators & counselors are available through 1-888-998-4646

The deadline to enroll in the affordable health insurance coverage for 2015 is very close. February 15, 2015, is the last day for uninsured South Carolina residents to select a health insurance plan and still get financial assistance for premiums. The non-partisan, statewide organization, Palmetto Project, is coordinating signupSC, a statewide effort to provide enrollment assistance in South Carolina. In-person assistance is available this week in Edgefield, Greenwood, McCormick, Saluda counties. Appointments are still available from 9 am – 5 pm by calling 1-888-998-4646.

  • Tuesday, February 3, 2015: McDonald’s, 1204 S. Main St., in Greenwood
  • Wednesday, February 4, 2015: McDonald’s at 714 Augusta Rd. in Edgefield
  • Thursday, February 5, 2015: McCormick County Library, 201 Railroad Ave. in McCormick
  • Friday, February 6, 2015: Saluda County Library, 101 S. Main St. in Saluda

Nearly 8 out of 10 people in SC who have already enrolled have qualified for substantial assistance.  2/3 of those the 162,000 who have enrolled are paying less than $100/month for comprehensive health care.  February 15 is the open enrollment final deadline date for 2015 coverage and to avoid penalties for not having health insurance.

Shelli Quenga, director of Palmetto Project’s signupSC enrollment assistance network, said that already more than 162,000 have renewed and enrolled in new coverage since the November start of enrollment. That’s a 27% increase over last year’s much longer enrollment period. “We just have two more weeks for new enrollments, so we strongly encourage people to start looking at their options now,” she said. “Health insurance is complicated. And the coverage you select cannot be changed after the February 15 deadline.”

Penalties for choosing to remain uninsured will increase for 2015. 2014 penalties were $95/adult or 1% of taxable income, whichever is greater. In 2015, those penalties increase to $325/adult or 2% of taxable income, whichever is greater. Many people may be eligible for hardship exemptions to these penalties. Certified navigators can assist in completing exemption applications.

Certified insurance navigators can provide in-person assistance to those applying for health insurance coverage at the time of initial application. Navigators can also help citizens to understand other coverage options such as SC Healthy Connections Medicaid and provide referrals to other services such as community health centers, free clinics, and prescription assistance programs. Navigators are bound by Federal regulations to do the following:

  • offer information on the types of health insurance programs available through the Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov;
  • provide application assistance for private and public health insurance programs and advance premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions;
  • refer consumers to other organizations for help with grievances, complaints or questions regarding health coverage or a determination related to coverage; and
  • supply information in a fair and impartial manner which is culturally and linguistically appropriate, and disability accessible, for those using the Exchange, including individuals with limited English proficiency.

Any state resident can engage the network toll-free at 1-888-998-4646 and speak directly to a certified navigator.  All services of signupSC are free to state residents and available in all 46 counties. The signupSC network includes navigators who are specialists in helping underserved populations with unique barriers to accessing care.  These include people with disabilities and others with pre-existing conditions like HIV/AIDS.   The network also provides Spanish-speaking navigators and translation services to those for whom English is not a primary language. An uninsured individual seeking coverage in the Marketplace must have or expect to have a taxable income of at least $11,670, with subsidies and tax advantages phasing out at $46,680, but up to $95,000 for a family of four.