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2015 South Carolina ACA marketplace rates

20 Oct , 2014,
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Breaking News: SC DOI releases 2015 South Carolina ACA marketplace rates!

The SC Department of Insurance on Friday, October 17, 2014 released sample rates for health insurance plans available on the Health Insurance Marketplace for 2015. The sample 2015 South Carolina ACA marketplace rates were for a 40 year old South Carolina resident and rates were given for 5 major metro areas in South Carolina: Charleston, Horry, Greenville, Richland, and York counties. Sample rates were also provided for both smokers and non-smokers, as the Affordable Care Act does allow insurance companies to charge more for tobacco use.

CLICK HERE to view 2015 South Carolina ACA marketplace rates.

2015 South Carolina ACA marketplace rates

Open enrollment for 2015 SC Health Plans begins November 15, 2014!

Although we do not yet have a complete set of rates for 2015 South Carolina marketplace plans, the sample information provided by the South Carolina DOI provides a number of insights into what we may see for the 2015 Open Enrollment, beginning November 15, 2014. Let’s break it down by insurer:

Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina

For 2015, it looks like BCBS marketplace rates will actually be LOWER in 2015 for certain regions, notably the coastal areas and the midlands. For example, in Charleston county, the average BCBS Silver plan price for 2015 is $294.88 versus an average 2014 price of $318.10 for a silver plan in Charleston county. This is great news, especially in light of the recent network expansion announcement by BCBS-SC. Last week, we broke a story that Roper St. Francis healthcare system will be in network for marketplace plans in 2015.  CLICK HERE for details on the BCBS network expansion. In addition, we have been informed that pediatric dental coverage will not be included in BCBS marketplace plans for 2015 – similar to other marketplace carriers. Eliminating this benefit (you can still buy a standalone pediatric dental policy on the marketplace) makes the Blue companies much more competitive for 2015!

Bluechoice of South Carolina

Similar to BCBS, for 2015 it appears that Bluechoice marketplace rates will actually be LOWER in 2015 for certain regions, notable the coastal areas and the midlands. Rates in Greenville, as illustrated by the SCDOI, look to be flat to slightly lower for most plans in 2015. For example, in Richland county, the average Bluechoice Silver plan price for 2015 is $314.60 versus an average 2014 price of $336.65. This is great news, especially in light of the recent network expansion announcement by Bluechoice. Last week, we broke a story that Roper St. Francis healthcare system will be in network for Bluecross marketplace plans in 2015 – we expect the same in network treatment for Bluechoice, as the 2 insurers essentially share the same network.  CLICK HERE for details on the Bluechoice network expansion. Similar to BCBS, Bluechoice will also eliminate the pediatric dental benefit for on exchange policies for 2015, according to our sources.

Consumers Choice Health Plan

Consumers Choice Health Plan was the overall winner for market share for the 2014 open enrollment in South Carolina, so we have been anxious to see what 2015 would look like. For 2014, CCHP was the low price leader in the majority (though certainly not all) South Carolina counties. In the few counties where CCHP was not the low price leader in 2014, we expect CCHP to be the low price leader for 2015, as they have made some network changes in rural areas that should significantly reduce their premiums. Most notably, Newberry county is one of the areas we expect to be affected by an overall price decrease for 2015. Overall, it appears CCHP is getting a slight increase in rates for 2015. Also, it appears CCHP will retain top position as the low price leader among silver plans for the 5 metro area samples provided. It is important to note, however, that rates are getting very close in the upstate among CCHP, Bluecross, Bluechoice and Coventry. In Greenville county for 2015, there is only a $2 difference in price between CCHP and Bluechoice! Hooray for competition!

Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas, Inc.

Although not available in all South Carolina counties for 2014, Coventry enrolled a respectable number of South Carolinians due to having access to both MUSC and Roper St. Francis for 2014 marketplace plans using a tiered network model. For 2015, we noticed a few interesting points for Coventry. First, it appears that Coventry is getting a rate increase across the board for 2015, though the amount of increase varies across plans. It appears in most areas, Bronze plans were least affected by increases. It appears Coventry’s Gold plans were hit with an increase of approximately 10% in most areas. Second, it appears Coventry is expanding their Silver plan options from 1 plan in 2014 to 2 plans in 2015. We hope to have more information about this new plan offering by next week, and will update with the latest. Finally, it appears that Coventry will be newly offering plans on the marketplace in York, Lancaster, and Newberry counties for 2015! It is currently rumored that Carolinas Medical Center will be the preferred network provider for the new marketplace product in York & Lancaster.

Time Insurance – Assurant Health

Last, but certainly not least, is Assurant Health, marketed by Time Insurance. Assurant will be a new entrant into the marketplace for 2014 in South Carolina. As the 2015 South Carolina ACA marketplace rates released by the SCDOI indicate, Assurant will be the highest priced option available on the marketplace for 2015. However, we must note, that Assurant will be the ONLY plan available with a broad, quality PPO network on the marketplace. In addition, Assurant will be the only company offering Platinum plans on the marketplace in South Carolina for 2015! Assurant will be a great option for SC residents who demand a wide PPO network (Aetna Signature network), out of network benefits and an open formulary!


If you have questions about anything mentioned above, leave a comment, call or email us!

On November 15th, 2014, South Carolina residents can visit our homepage, click “enroll now” and view 2015 South Carolina ACA marketplace rates, apply for tax credits and enroll quickly!

UPDATE: October 25, 2014 – South Carolina Department has released additional sample rate data for ages 25 and 60!

2015 South Carolina Health Insurance Rate Increases

13 Oct , 2014,
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2015 South Carolina Health Insurance Rate Increases


On Friday, October 10, 2014, the South Carolina Department of Insurance released a summary of 2015 South Carolina health insurance rate increases for each insurer in South Carolina. Overall, it appears that the average increase across all South Carolina health plans will be approximately 1%, as reported by Charleston’s Post & Courier. At the surface, it appears this is very good news for South Carolina residents fearing a big rate increase for 2015.

2015 South Carolina Health Insurance Rate Increases: A Deeper look.

Of course, the 1% overall increase doesn’t tell the entire story. Currently, the SC Department Of Insurance has not released detailed rate information, however, as your #1 South Carolina Obamacare Agent, SChealthconnector has been tracking these rate increases very closely. Using data we have collected in addition to rate filing information released by the SC DOI we would like to provide our readers with as much rate data as possible. Before we get started, it is important to note that in South Carolina, insurers can charge different amounts via county and via plan. For example, an insurer could raise a Gold plan rate in Orangeburg, while also lowering Silver plan rates in Orangeburg. Rate increases and decreases are very specific and many insurers have numerous plans in each metal category (Bronze, Silver, Gold)!

The first thing that caught our eye on the DOI rate release was the wide variation in rates with Consumers Choice Healthplan rate decrease minimum of -35.00% and rate increase maximums of 38.50%. I suspect the -35% rate DECREASES to affect South Carolina counties where Consumers Choice was renting the Medcost network for 2014. Renting provider networks is a very pricey proposition. Time/Assurant is another insurer that rents their provider network, and as we can see in the SC DOI rate information, it is reflected in rate increases of 7%-35% for Assurant. The average increase for Assurant was 21%, according to the published figures.

One bright spot of the 2015 South Carolina health insurance rate increase data are actually a couple of DECREASES! Overall, the SCDOI is reporting an average DECREASE of -2.11% for Bluechoice and -2.34% for Bluecross. We have also been told that both companies will offer family plans for 2015. For 2014, Bluecross and Bluechoice only offered individual plans, much to our dismay. I will also note that I am expecting another major announcement from Bluecross and Bluechoice shortly regarding network expansion for 2015. Unfortunately, I cannot say anything further – stay tuned, or drop me and email, call or tweet to find out more.

Regarding Coventry, the 2015 SC health insurance rate increase summary indicates an average increase of 5.3% for Coventry Health Care. The biggest news for Coventry in South Carolina was the addition of marketplace plans in a few counties that only had Coventry plans available OFF MARKETPLACE for 2014. It appears York county and Lancaster county will now have Coventry plans offered on the marketplace, along with a few others.

South Carolina Health INsurance rate increases

York county will have new health plan options on the marketplace for 2015!

Coventry was the first insurer to begin sending out rate change letters to South Carolina residents for 2015. Based on what I have seen so far, it appears that in the lowcountry, Coventry’s Gold plans are running approximately 10.81% and Coventry’s lowest price Bronze plan option appears to be running approximately 3.87% higher based on renewal data we have collected so far. Based on detailed plan information we have been able to view so far, we do not anticipate major benefits changes for 2015, though Coventry has indicated the are making changes to their most popular plans (Silver and Bronze).

If you have questions about any of this, please drop us a line, call tweet, or like us on facebook.


2015 Health Insurance Shopping Tips

29 Sep , 2014,
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2015 Health Insurance Shopping Tips

With the upcoming health insurance open enrollment starting on November 15, 2015, it is important that everyone take some basic steps to ensure that they make an informed decision on their health insurance plan for 2015.

South Carolina Platinum Plan

Many things have changed since the last open enrollment, new plans, new pricing, new networks, and don’t forget, the penalty for not buying coverage in 2015 will increase to 2% of your income! At the end of this article we have presented a variety of helpful links for those of you who wish to do your own research. With that said, let’s take a look at we have assembled as our list of  2015 Health Insurance shopping tips for South Carolina residents:

1. GET HELP – Navigators, Health Insurance Agents, & Certified Application Counselors can all help you complete your health insurance enrollment for 2015. Of course, as an independent agent, I am biased towards recommending EVERYONE use an agent. Agents are licensed by their respective state, and are the only assisters that are legally allowed to discuss, compare, and give advice on health insurance plans. Agents are also available year round to help you navigate changes in circumstances which may affect your health plan eligibility. Of course, enrollment assistance is always FREE. It is illegal for anyone to charge you a fee for enrollment assistance. /insurance companies are not allowed to charge you more for enrolling thru an agent or navigator!

2. BE PREPARED – BASIC INFORMATION – You can get enrolled faster if you have all necessary personal information handy when you start shopping. Household income information, Social security numbers, dates of birth and full legal names of everyone applying is a MUST! Having reasonable estimation of your household income will help your agent or assister determine if you may qualify for a tax credit.

3. BE PREPARED – PRESCRIPTION INFORMATION – All health insurance plans have a formulary of covered drugs. A formulary is simply a list that states which drugs are covered, and what coverage tier each drug falls under.

2015 Health Plan shopping tips

Have Rx info handy when preparing to enroll!

Having a list of your prescriptions handy when enrolling can be helpful when shopping for a plan.

4. BE PREPARED – PROVIDER INFORMATION – Having a list of you or your family’s doctors, specialists and preferred hospitals on hand can be VERY helpful. When I am helping enroll someone, I always take the time to see if your providers are in network. Simply having the doctor or facility’s name is usually sufficient for me to do a quick network search. I have run across many South Carolina residents that enrolled on their own without checking networks first. Many of these people were unhappy to find out a provider or hospital they use is not in their network. As an independent agent, I can quickly help you determine which plan is right for you based on the providers you prefer!

2015 Health Insurance Shopping Tips

Avoid hassle and lost time! Use a Private Exchange to enroll in a health plan!

5. SAVE TIME – As anyone who watches the news knows, applying through www.healthcare.gov could be a tedious process during the last open enrollment. A lengthy application process, combined with technical glitches and a website burdened by high traffic loads made the 2014 enrollment process difficult for everyone. For the 2015 open enrollment period, we have a couple of new enrollment options. First are issuer based pathways, where you can apply directly from an insurance company website. The downside to this is you can only enroll in plans sold by the insurance company website you are visiting. The second option are Web Broker Entities, also commonly referred to as “Private Exchanges”. You can view our private exchange HERE. A Private Exchange has all of the functionality of healthcare.gov and lets you apply for tax credits and enroll in a plan without creating an account at healthcare.gov. The Private Exchange actually uses a secure connection to healthcare.gov to confirm tax credits and plan enrollment. We like to refer to it as the faster, more efficient  “back door” to healthcare.gov! Our private exchange system allows most people to enroll in under 10 minutes!

This concludes our 2015 health insurance shopping tips for today! Have a tip of your own or a question? Leave us a comment!


Don’t be misled: Healthcare.gov!

24 Oct , 2013,
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Last weekend a new link/page was added to www.healthcare.gov. This link is titled “See Plans Now” (see image below – you can click to enlarge). This new feature claimed to let users view plans and rates in their area.

mislead healthcare.govUnfortunately, the information provided via this tool is incorrect for nearly all users. Why, you ask? Because the healthcare.gov rate calculator does not estimate rates based on your exact age. Instead, the it simply asks if you are older/younger than age 49.

In the next image, you can see that when you choose to “”See Plans Now” you are simply asked if you are “49 or younger” or “50 or older”.  Not exactly a great baseline for calculating health plan rates.

South Carolina Health Exchange Rates





The Results:

For this exercise, I chose Charleston County, SC as my area of residence, and selected “Age 49 or younger”. Of course, I am 35 years old, and my exchange application is still being delayed for Identity verification (2 weeks and counting). So it seems reasonable that I may want to browse rates on the federal exchange while my Identity Verification is processing. Of course, after completing the required information about myself and my family status, I was given a list of every plan available in Charleston county, SC. Unfortunately, the rates given were much lower than what my ACTUAL rates are, based on my South Carolina Health Exchange Rates quote engine! See the image below for the rates I was given:

South Carolina health exchange quotesengine


As you can see, the healthcare.gov plan finder tool gave me estimated rates of $230.27 for the CoventryOne Silver $10 Copay Roper St Francis Plan.


Actual Results: Real numbers from SChealthconnector.org

So after viewing the rates over at healthcare.gov, I proceeded to run quotes for myself here on the schealthconnector.org South Carolina Health Exchange Rates page. As expected, my ACTUAL premium was much higher than that given by healthcare.gov $268.50 (See image below – click to enlarge). IN the age of Google, Amazon & Ebay, it seems obvious that transparency should be the #1 priority for a consumer website – hopefully our government can do much better- and SOON!

South Carolina Health Exchange rates

Consumer Reports – “Healthcare.gov? Don’t even bother trying”

22 Oct , 2013,
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Yesterday, the Washington times had an article updating the status of healthcare.gov. Consumer reports was quoted as saying “Don’t bother even trying for another couple of weeks”. South Carolina Obamacare Agent shows busy Marketplace

Though I have personally  seen some improvements in the site, I would not argue with consumer reports. As an agency we feel that, though the site is improving, the overall enrollment process is still taking longer than acceptable for most people. This morning, I am happy to report that the document upload feature of the Identity Proofing process seems to be working normally. As of late as last week, the document upload process seemed to be broken – giving an error message that files must be less than 10MB, regardless of actual file size!  Experian is the entity tasked with Identity Proofing for the Federal Marketplace. In addition, failed identity verification errors gave a toll free number to call Experian. However, the error message gave no reference number in our experience. When calling the toll free number to Experian, the caller is required to have a reference number from the Federal Marketplace in order to address the issue. Obviously, this is quite a problem – we hope it is resolved soon. In the meantime, these examples are more reasons why you need a South Carolina Obamacare Agent to help you navigate the new Federal Marketplace!

Read the full Washinton Times Article below:


South Carolina Health Plan Enrollment Info

14 Oct , 2013,
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www.schealthconnector.org is your #1 source for South Carolina Health Plan Enrollment Information! CONTACT US today for enrollment assistance!

We are pleased to provide our clients South Carolina enrollment Information to help get enrolled and compare health plans on the new health insurance marketplace. However, please follow the instructions below so that we may properly assist you. Please note that we will not have access to your South Carolina health plan enrollment to work with you if you do not complete the registration properly. As experienced South Carolina agents, we have a state of the art software system that allows up to share computer screens during the health plan enrollment process. This allows you to complete your health plan enrollment at your convenience on your computer, when you want to and where you want to, with the added security of having an expert agent advising you!

For our clients wishing to enroll in a South Carolina health plan on their own, directions below!

South Carolina Health Plan Enrollment Information:

South Carolina Health Plan Enrollment

Log in at http://www.healthcare.gov and register…

When the you are logged in to the healthcare.gov page, you will see a screen labeled,“Help applying for coverage.” On this screen, it is vital that the you enter the following information: agent’s/broker’s name, NPN, and FFM User ID (if the agent/broker has an FFM User ID). Click on the image above to verify information. Accurate entry of our agent’s/broker’s information on that screen will enable the insurance carrier to associate the health plan enrollment with us, your agent/broker.

Our NPN number is 7889453 and our FFM User ID is jtdickerson. Please be sure to enter these codes into the “help applying for coverage” section so that we can access your South Carolina Health Plan enrollment account. Please call us directly if you need assistance or have questions. Be advised that the system is currently overloaded and you may have trouble registering right away. Keep in mind, there is no rush to enroll since all the South Carolina health plans are not effective until January 1st 2014. The cutoff date for January 1st 2014 health plan enrollments is December 15th 2013.

Through our virtual desktop meeting technology, we are happy to serve ALL of South Carolina including: Abbeville County, Aiken County, Allendale County, Anderson County,Bamberg County, Barnwell County, Beaufort County, Berkeley County, Calhoun County, Charleston County, Cherokee County, Chester County, Chesterfield County, Clarendon County, Colleton ,ounty,Darlington County,Dillon County,Dorchester County,Edgefield County, Fairfield County, Florence County, Georgetown County,Greenville County, Greenwood County,Hampton County,Horry County,Jasper County,Kershaw County, Lancaster County,Laurens County, Lee County, Lexington County, Marion County,Marlboro County,McCormick County, Newberry County,Oconee County,Orangeburg County, Pickens County,Richland County,Saluda County, Spartanburg County, Sumter County, Union County, Williamsburg County, York County

2014 Health Insurance Plans in South Carolina

25 Sep , 2013,
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Beginning October 1, 2013, many South Carolina residents will be able enroll in a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) through the new Health Insurance Marketplace. Many South Carolina residents will also qualify for health plan subsidies to help pay for health insurance premiums.

Of course, choosing and enrolling in a Qualified Health Plan is a very important decision! Once you choose a plan, you will be “locked in” until the next open enrollment. Whether you live in Greenville, Charleston, Florence, or Aiken, WE CAN HELP you choose the health insurance plan that works best for you! We are certified by CMS as Federal Facilitated Marketplace agent/brokers. By working with a certified agent, you will receive expert advice at NO EXTRA COST to you! All health insurance premiums are set by the State and Federal government, and insurers cannot charge more for working with an agent.

For 2014, South Carolina will have 4 insurance carriers offering Qualified Health Plans: Bluecross Blue shield of SC, Bluechoice SC, Coventry, and Consumers Choice Health plan. Although health plan designs will follow ACA guidelines, health plan offerings from each of these carriers will vary greatly in many respects. One of the biggest differentiators between plans will be networks. Some plans will have very strict, HMO style networks, with limited choices of providers. Many HMO style plans may not allow out of network benefits – this is a very important consideration when choosing a plan! In addition, some plans may offer individual only coverage – this could present additional deductibles and out of pocket costs for families. Once again, I must stress that these factors make working with an agent imperative. Feel free to contact us directly for help, or if you just have some questions – we are here to help!

For more information on health plan subsidies, visit our sister site – myhealthplansubsidy.com