SC’s Health Insurance Exchange Reduced to Only One Carrier
Calvin James, MPH, Community Health Improvement Specialist
Office: 803-454-3850, ext. 2059
When the 2017 open enrollment period begins, South Carolinians will find just one carrier offering plans through the state’s federally facilitated health insurance exchange. Because of this, South Carolina will be one of just five states that will have only one carrier offering plans in the exchange in 2017. The other states included Alaska, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Wyoming.
South Carolina Insurance Carriers in 2016
Currently in South Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina and Blue Choice, a subsidiary of Blue Cross and Blue Shield offers state wide insurance plans in the exchange. Two other companies, Coventry (Aetna) and United Healthcare offers insurance plans but on a much smaller scale. Coventry currently offers plans in 15 of the state’s 46 counties, and insures only 8,000 of the more than 200,000 people who have coverage in the South Carolina Exchange. Likewise, United Healthcare only offers plans in five counties in South Carolina, and does not offer the ability to participate in either of the two lowest-priced silver plans in any of those counties.
One carrier in 2017 brings about rate increases up to 27 percent
United Healthcare is exiting the entire individual market in South Carolina at the end of 2016. This is also the case in most of the other states where United currently offers exchange plans.
Coventry (Aetna), who also offers plans in the South Carolina exchange in 2016, and had originally filed an average rate increase of 27.17 percent for 2017, decided that they would exit the South Carolina exchange altogether at the end of 2016.
Strikingly, in October 2016, the South Carolina Department of Insurance confirmed that Blue Choice would no longer offer plans in the exchange in 2017, with the parent company choosing instead to only offer Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina plans. As a result, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina will be the only carrier offering plans in the exchange.
Although Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina had filed a proposed average rate increase of 14.74 percent for 2017, the approved rate increase ended up being on average around 27 percent. However, this increase will affect South Carolinians obtaining insurance on the exchange before any subsidies are applied.