Consumers' Choice Failure Affects Consumers in SC

The health co-op will no longer sell policies in 2016, affecting thousands of people and many businesses in South Carolina.

Consumers’ Choice Health Insurance, an alternative health insurer created under the Affordable Care Act, will not sell health policies for 2016 and will cease to do business in South Carolina as of December 31, 2015.

This news directly affects 67,000 South Carolinians who are currently covered by Consumers’ Choice, which is similar to an electric co-op in which the company is owned by the consumers it insures. The news also impacts small businesses in the state that have relied on Consumers’ Choice for coverage for their employees.

The SC-based health co-op was one of more than 20 created nationwide to provide a public alternative to commercial health insurers. About a third of the health coops have either shut down or announced plans to shut down, leaving a half million Americans looking for an alternative for 2016.

Many consumers, who chose health co-ops based on premiums, now may face higher prices. But in some cases lower prices left the co-ops vulnerable to losses and without the reserves needed to stay afloat. Also, Congress cut co-op funding from $6 billion to $2.4 billion and restricted the administration’s ability to help insurers on the exchanges with unexpectedly large costs.