Blue Cross Blue Shield South Carolina 2016 health plan update: BlueEssentials
Earlier this week, the SChealthconnector team got a sneak peak of the NEW Blue Cross Blue Shield South Carolina 2016 health plans, marketed under the BlueEssentials label.
So far, we have been very impressed with what we have seen! Blue Cross Blue Shield is one of the largest health insurers in the state of South Carolina, and is the only health insurer in South Carolina with an A.M. Best rating of A+ (Superior).
New for 2016: Dental and Vision Coverage on all Plans
All BlueEssentials 2016 plans include dental allowance for adults and children for exams and cleaning:
One exam every six months, $27 allowance first visit and $20 on the second visit.
One cleaning every six months, $40 allowance for adults over the age of 20, and $31 for a child.
Members are responsible for paying any additional balance for what is not covered. Members will submit a dental reimbursement form to Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina for reimbursement.
Vision Benefits for children and adults, including low copayments on vision examsand discounts on lenses, frames and contacts:
Members Ages 20 and Older
One exam per benefit period with a $20 copayment for VSP provider
Frames and lenses options covered at a 20% discount
Contacts covered at a 20% discount
Members Age 19 or Younger
One exam per benefit period with a $25 copayment
$50 copayment on eye glasses every year and frames every two years
The vision network includes over 400 providers throughout South Carolina
New for 2016: Wellness Plus
We were extremely excited to find out that all Blue Cross Blue Shield BlueEssentials plans will offer the Wellness Plus benefit for 2016. Wellness Plus covers up to $500 for services not covered under your standard preventative doctor visits. Per BlueCross BlueShield South Carolina, this benefit is designed to help members with services normally considered “preventative” that fall outside of the PPACA prescribed preventative services list.
More competitive rates for 2016
As recently reported by the tireless folks over at ACAsignups.net, the South Carolina Department of Insurance recently released sample 2016 marketplace rates for the SC marketplace and rates for Blue Cross Blue Shield South Carolina 2016 health plans look extremely competitive! According to the data, BlueEssentials Silver plans appear to be the benchmark plan in many South Carolina counties!
Today, November 6, 2014, marks the first day that insurance companies are allowed by CMS to market plans for 2015!
First out of the gate today is Bluechoice Healthplan of South Carolina, who just sent us plan brochures for the 2015 plan year. For 2015, Bluechoice has renamed its product line – all individual plans will now be sold under the “Blue Options” name. We hope this will help prevent confusion, as we have encountered many situations where providers thought that clients on individual Bluechoice health plans were covered by the Bluechoice Medicaid plan.
Why choose Bluechoice SC 2015 health plans?
BlueChoice HealthPlan offers Blue Option to individuals and families seeking health coverage in South Carolina. BlueChoice HealthPlan has more than 30 years of experience providing security to South Carolinians. Bluechoice’s service, value and quality are evident in all Blue Option plans.
– 23 Plan designs to fit your budget: 4 Gold, 12 Silver, 6 Bronze plans and 1 Catastrophic plan available to SC residents.
– Expanded statewide doctor and hospital network
– Vision and dental coverage included for all
– 24/7 phone access to doctors and nurses
– Nationally recognized health plan for service and member satisfaction
– Life management services including legal, financial and self-help
Click the link below to view Bluechoice South Carolina 2015 Plans:
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.
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!
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.
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.
Today we begin the first in a series of videos designed to help you get started with the enrollment process at www.healthcare.gov. Today’s video will show you the process used to create your account at healthcare.gov. Check it out below:
As your #1 South Carolina Obamacare Agent we are committed to helping South Carolina residents find the best, most affordable coverage for your unique situation. As a licensed health insurance agent/broker for over 10 years, we have the experience needed to help you make the right decision. Many South Carolina residents will qualify for lower costs on their health insurance premiums through healthcare.gov. The first step to finding your health insurance coverage for 2014 is to create an account at healthcare.gov. Not sure which plan to choose? Contact us today, and we can help you determine if you may qualify for a health insurance tax credit to lower your costs!
Why create your account at healthcare.gov?
By creating your account at healthcare.gov, you are just minutes away from determining if you qualify for a premium tax credit to reduce you health insurance costs. Many South Carolina residents who apply through healthcare.gov may also qualify for cost sharing subsidies. These tax credits and cost sharing reductions are only available for health insurance plans purchased through healthcare.gov. We can help you with the process! Get started today by watching our video and create your healthcare.gov account!
Is it safe to create your account at healthcare.gov?
After the SC Department of Revenue breach in 2012, it is understandable that many SC residents are wary of their online privacy. While many people are worried about the security of their information at healthcare.gov, we would like to point out that identity theft happens all over the internet. If you use popular services such as Facebook, Google, or online banking, chances are your information is already readily available on the internet. We recommend everyone who uses the internet on a daily basis be wary of their personal information safeguards, use strong passwords, clear your browser cache regularly and use 2-step authentication where possible. As an online health insurance agent, I use a variety of security methods such as encryption, 2 step authentication, virus protection and strong passwords to ensure HIPPA compliance and my own personal data security.
10/03/2015 – We can now confirm that there will be at least one South Carolina Platinum plan offered in EVERY South Carolina county for 2015 on the Health Insurance Marketplace. According to our sources, this will be a PPO based product offered by Assurant. This means that SC residents will now be able to use tax credits to purchase a Platinum level plan
SC Platinum Plan Quote
through the health insurance marketplce. Our private exchange, which opens on November 15, 2014, will allow customers to apply for tax credits, compare prices and plans, and enroll (in a Platinum plan, if you wish!) in less than 15 minutes!
Stay tuned for more updates. In the meantime, you can find more information about South Carolina Platinum plans in our original article below:
Have you seen the new 2015 South Carolina Platinum Plans? I have heard repeated numerous times in the news and in print, that “Insurance companies are not offering any Platinum plans in South Carolina.”I would like to take a moment to say that THERE ARE, IN FACT SOUTH CAROLINA PLATINUM PLANS OFFERED IN 2014!
Of course, there is a catch – these South Carolina Platinum plans are only offered off of the exchange/marketplace.
What does “off marketplace” mean? Keep reading to find out!
What is a South Carolina Platinum Plan?
Platinum plans, as defined by the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or as some say, “Obamacare”) are health insurance plans that have an actuarial value of 90%. In general, Platinum plans have higher monthly premiums, but lower out of pocket costs. For this reason, South Carolina Platinum plans are more suited to people who expect to go to the doctor often, have regular monthly prescriptions, or expect to have other substantial medical expenditures throughout the year.
Off-Exchange/Marketplace Health Plans
Off exchange plans are plans that are offered outside of the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. These plans, starting January 1, 2014, must comply with all of the laws that apply to health plans offered on the Federal Exchange/Marketplace at www.healthcare.gov. Just like plans on the marketplace, qualified health plans purchased outside of the federal marketplace must still cover the 10 essential health benefits as defined by the healthcare reform law. The biggest difference to YOU, the consumer? Anyone who purchases an off-exchange plan cannot qualify for Federal subsidies to offset health insurance premiums. Generally, most South Carolina individuals and families making between 100% and 400% of the Federal Poverty level may be eligible for premium assistance through the Federal Exchange. I personally believe, that in certain situations, many South Carolina residents who are eligible for a subsidy, may be better off forgoing the subsidy and buying an off exchange policy. In addition, many off-marketplace plans use more robust provider networks than those found in marketplace plans. Recently, local South Carolina Newspapers such as the Post & Courier and The State Newspaper published articles about the limited networks for many health plans available on the Federal Marketplace. This is why we recommend working with a South Carolina Obamacare agent to be sure that you choose the plan that best suits YOUR unique needs.
Who offers South Carolina Platinum Plans?
Of course, as a full service Health Insurance Agency we offer South Carolina Platinum plans through through Assurant Health. Assurant Health offers 2 South Carolina Platinum Plans: CoreMed Platinum 1 and CoreMed Platinum 2. Each of these plans allows the enrollee to select either the CIGNA PPO Network or the Aetna Signature Administrators Network. For benefit summaries for each of the two South Carolina Platinum Plans, click the links below:
Who is Assurant? Great question. Assurant traces its roots to the founding of the LaCrosse Mutual Aid Association established in LaCrosse, Wisconsin in 1892, formed to provide consumers with disability insurance. Assurant Health now provides quality health care insurance products to customers with an emphasis on individuals who need coverage but are not part of a larger group plan. With a 120-year legacy, the business offers affordable health care products including major medical, supplemental and fixed-benefit plans for individuals, families and small employers. Financial ratings information for Assurant’s various companies can be viewed HERE.
Who should consider a South Carolina Platinum Plan?
Anyone who visits the doctor often, takes many prescriptions, or otherwise has high anticipated medical costs. Our analysis indicates that South Carolina residents under the age of 50 may see the most value in a South Carolina Platinum plan in 2014. In our analysis, many residents with high medical costs were better off paying higher Platinum plan premiums in exchange for much lower out of pocket costs. Please contact us today to help determine if you may be a good candidate for a South Carolina Platinum plan. We can HELP!
Update – 10/28/2013
We really enjoyed this article from the New York Times, especially as it relates to South Carolina Platinum plans :
WITH so much attention being paid to the troubled debut of the Obama administration’s health insurance exchanges, another alternative has largely gone unnoticed: unless you live in Washington, D.C., or Vermont, you can also buy insurance outside the exchanges — by going directly to insurance brokers, agents or company Web sites. Read More Here
Update – 11/12/2013
Platinum plans are 2nd most popular plans on the Kentucky Health Insurance Marketplace!
Young female with pricey tastes: Kentucky Obamacare numbers
If Obamacare data were a horse race, Kentucky would be leading the pack.
Kentucky has released in-depth, demographically detailed information about enrollments in its state-run Obamacare marketplace, setting a high bar for federal authorities to beat when they finally release their own enrollment data from HealthCare.gov later this week for the first time. Read More…
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.
Unfortunately, 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.
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:
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!
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”.
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!
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:
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
Beginning on October 1, 2013 South Carolina residents will be able to begin enrolling in new qualified health insurance plans and receive subsidies to help pay for their health insurance plan premiums. In addition, as part of the new Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can no longer deny people based on their health. Even if you have major ongoing health issues, insurance companies will not be able to deny you coverage or charge you more for pre-existing conditions. These new guaranteed issue health insurance plans will begin as soon as January 1,2014. If you need help enrolling in one of these new plans contact us today!