The ACA, South Carolina and the New Administration

The ACA, South Carolina and the New Administration

Contact Information:
Calvin James, MPH
Community Health Improvement Specialist
Office: 803-454-3850, ext. 2059
Email: james@scorh.net

 

How the Affordable Care Act is working in South Carolina
Over the past three years, the Affordable Care Act has worked to make health care more affordable, accessible, and high quality for the people of South Carolina.  In fact, reports have shown that over 210,331 consumers selected or were automatically re-enrolled in quality, affordable health insurance coverage through the Marketplace as of Feb 2016 in South Carolina alone.  Nationwide, nearly 11.7 million consumers selected a plan or were automatically enrolled in Marketplace coverage.

 

Positive effects of the ACA in South Carolina:
  • 88 percent of South Carolina consumerswho were signed up qualified for an average tax credit of $278 per month through the Marketplace.
  • 69 percent of South Carolina Marketplace enrolleesobtained coverage for $100 or less after any applicable tax credits in 2015, and 92 percent had the option of doing so.
  • South Carolina consumerscould choose from an average of 59 health plans in their county for 2015 coverage – up from 25 in 2014.
  • 71,407 consumersin South Carolina under the age of 35 are signed up for Marketplace coverage (34 percent of plan selections in the state).
  • 58,806 consumers 18 to 34 years of age (28 percent of all plan selections) are signed up for Marketplace coverage.
  • South Carolina has received $1,000,000 in grantsfor research, planning, information technology development, and implementation of its Marketplace.

 

The ACA and the New Administration
President-elect Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress say the first thing they want to do is repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. If they do, it will have an effect on South Carolinians, some positive and some negative.

 

Currently, many South Carolinians who get their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, or ACA are healthier, says State Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Columbia, who is also an insurance agent with thousands of clients in three states insured through the ACA. “We see a lot of consumers that can buy health insurance and are making much better decisions today than they were maybe two or three years ago.

 

Additionally, about 85 percent of those with insurance through the ACA are getting some federal assistance, and “we see that all the time,” he says. Before now, many of those now insured couldn’t afford insurance and they might not have been going to get some of the preventive care that has made them healthier.

 

What would happen if the ACA is repealed?

 

“What would happen to those people is a great question, and if they repeal it do they repeal all of it? For example, under the Affordable Care Act 26-year-olds can stay on their parents’ coverage. That’s a great part of the Affordable Care Act that has helped keep our young people covered,” says State Sen. Joel Lourie.  Likewise, if the ACA is repealed, those federal subsidies that make health insurance affordable would likely disappear too, meaning thousands of people wouldn’t be able to again afford health insurance.

 

Another popular part of the law requires insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions without charging more. Before the ACA, they were denied coverage or charged rates they couldn’t afford. Sen. Lourie hopes Congress will find a way to at least keep those parts of the current law in place.

 

Bob Hartwig, an insurance expert at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, says if Obamacare is repealed, “There’s going to be significant impact on the nation and, in fact, on the people of South Carolina.”

 

“What we would hope for in the longer run is that there’d be some restructuring of the program such that it would bring more competition back into the South Carolina market. The only way that is going to happen is to get some more balance in the health care pools that exist today. The pools today suffer from a deficiency of younger and healthier individuals and a surplus of individuals who are older and sicker, and that’s why the plans are, in effect, costing insurers so much money that they’ve been pulling out, including here in South Carolina,” he says.

 

He expects Congress to repeal the individual mandate, which requires everyone to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. That’s been one of the biggest criticisms of the ACA–that the federal government shouldn’t be allowed to force you to buy something.

 

Another criticism is that it hurts small businesses and workers. Small businesses don’t have to provide health insurance for their workers if they have fewer than 50 employees, which gives them a disincentive to grow. And some workers are able to get only part-time jobs, or saw their full-time jobs cut to part-time, since employers don’t have to provide health insurance for part-time employees.

 

Hartwig says the impact of repealing the law will be widespread. “It’s possible that the cost of insurance will go up for certain individuals, particularly if the subsidies are withdrawn or phased out over time. That could be for low-income people or moderate-income people, or people working in small businesses who receive the subsidies today. It’s also going to be the case that individuals who have these chronic conditions, who have the pre-existing conditions are likely to see their rates rise in the future. There’s almost no way around it unless you plan on maintaining the act, and we know that’s not the objective of the new administration.”

 

Source: What Obamacare Repeal Would Mean for South Carolina, WSPA, Nov. 10, 2016

 

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