Published Sept. 26, 2013
Numbers crunched by the federal government show average premiums in the Health Insurance Marketplace of South Carolina will be slightly higher than the national average.
In South Carolina, the average premium for the lowest-cost silver plan will be $333 a month, and the lowest-cost bronze plan will cost $267 monthly, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The premiums do not include deductions for tax credits, which vary by locations.
The average silver premium in the state will be $5 more than the national average of $328, the agency said, or 1.5% higher. The average premium for the bronze plan in South Carolina will be $18 more than the national average of $249, or 7.2% higher.
No cost figures were provided for insurance plans covering small-business groups, which are companies with fewer than 50 employees.
Individual and group plans are marketed according to a metal system — bronze, silver, gold and platinum — with varying levels of cost-sharing for each. Low-cost catastrophic plans with high deductibles and copays also are offered. The law makes it illegal for most plans to deny coverage to anyone because of a pre-existing condition.
The $328 national average premium for the silver plan is 16% below earlier projections from the Congressional Budget Office, according to a news release from HHS. About 95% of uninsured people eligible for insurance from the marketplace live in a state where average premiums are lower than earlier projections, HHS said. And states with the lowest premiums have more than twice the number of insurance companies offering plans than states with the highest premiums.
According to the report, S.C. consumers will be able to choose from an average of 26 health plans in the marketplace.
The state Department of Insurance reported that four companies will offer individual health policies to S.C. consumers via the marketplace: BlueChoice Health Plan, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Consumers’ Choice Health Insurance and Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas.
In the small-group category, BlueChoice and BlueCross BlueShield will offer plans in the silver and gold categories. Consumers’ Choice will offer plans covering all four metal categories. Overall, 12 plans are offered for the small business group market. Coventry was not listed as offering coverage to small businesses.
The HHS report shows that a 27-year old living in South Carolina who makes $25,000 per year will pay $97 per month for the lowest-cost bronze plan and $145 per month for the second-lowest-cost silver plan, taking into account tax credits. For a family of four in South Carolina with an income of $50,000 per year, the lowest bronze plan would cost $109 per month after tax credits, and the second-lowest-cost silver would cost $282.
In the Columbia metro area, where consumers will have 28 qualified health plans to choose from, that same 27-year old will pay $90 per month for the lowest-cost bronze plan and $145 per month for the second-lowest-cost silver plan, with tax credits. And for the family of four, the lowest-cost bronze plan would cost $84 per month, and the second-lowest-cost silver plan would cost $282 after tax credits.
According to HHS, about 60% of uninsured individuals will be able to get coverage for $100 or less per month in the marketplace, taking into account premium tax credits and Medicaid coverage.
The six-month open enrollment period for marketplace plans begins Tuesday and runs through March. Coverage begins as early as Jan. 1.