The Federal Health Insurance Marketplace will be open for business on November 1, and South Carolinians are encouraged to look at their health insurance needs and options for 2016. As of June 2015, more than 160,000 people in South Carolina purchased a private health plan through the Federal Marketplace, up from 118,000 in 2014. Of those that purchased a plan in 2015, 88% are receiving premium subsidies to help them pay for health insurance. With an average tax credit of $278 a month, and 69% of tax credit beneficiaries selecting plans at less than $100 a month, here’s some information to help you make the best choice for Marketplace coverage in 2016:
• Enrollment dates have changed. To access coverage in 2014, consumers had a six-month window that was reduced to three months in 2015. South Carolinians will again have three months to purchase Marketplace coverage for 2016 beginning on November 1, 2015 and ending on January 31, 2016.
• Like Mama said, you better “shop around.” With premium increases expected on a national level, consumers should be more proactive in determining what plan provides the best value for their needs. Premiums may be increasing, but the Marketplace has improved side-by-side plan comparison and other features that should allow for a more straightforward shopping experience. Be sure to shop around to avoid being auto-enrolled in a plan without knowing your options.
• Penalties for not having health insurance are going up. The tax penalty for not having health insurance will increase sharply to $695 in 2016 or 2.5% of taxable income (whichever is higher) for people who choose not to enroll. That is more than double the $325 penalty assessed in 2015. Federal tax filings serve as the vehicle for assessing the penalty, which means your tax refund could be reduced, or you could pay more if you owe taxes at the end of the year. The maximum penalty that can be assessed on a family in 2016 is $2,085.
• SC will have different plan options in 2016. UnitedHealthcare will be the newest insurance carrier to join Coventry (Aetna), BlueChoice Health Plan, and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, leaving four carriers in the state’s exchange market next year. Assurant Health will no longer be offering plans in South Carolina, as they have withdrawn from the national health insurance market. Consumers’ Choice Health Insurance has also announced its withdrawal from the exchange, leaving its 67,000 customers to find a new plan in 2016.
For those seeking coverage who would like face-to-face help from a certified navigator or assister, please visit www.signupSC.com or call 1-888-998-4646 to schedule a personal appointment with a professional.
To get a sneak preview of 2016 health insurance plans and prices on the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace, click here and enter your zip code. For more information and to enroll in coverage beginning November 1, 2015 visit www.healthcare.gov.