independently of The Berkeley Independent news division.
By: H.A. Fisher
Sponsored by: PALMETTO PROJECT
Health insurance has been at the forefront of many debates, discussions and decisions since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010. Countless news articles, websites and programs have given people details, but still there remains confusion, questions and plenty of misinformation about what the Affordable Care Act is and does.
Also known as “Obamacare,” the goal is to increase the quality, accessibility and affordability of health insurance. Those who can afford insurance are required to have a plan or pay a per-month fee. Those with limited income may be eligible for subsidized insurance.
The open enrollment period for the insurance marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act begins in November, meaning more people will be looking to sign up for health insurance, explore their options and determine if they are eligible for financial assistance.
The Palmetto Project, a statewide organization that creates innovative strategies and solutions to address social and economic challenges in South Carolina, has long advocated for a more effective health solution.
With the creation of the Affordable Care Act, the nonprofit Palmetto Project became a statewide navigator for the insurance marketplace, helping South Carolinians sign up for insurance, answer questions and be an overall resource.
Through signupSC anyone can access accurate and impartial information about insurance options. Phone and in-person support is also available.
The Palmetto Project is also working to ensure people have correct information and that includes dispelling the many myths surrounding the Affordable Care Act.
Here are the five biggest myths:
- You have to sign up for marketplace health insurance. That is not true. If you are covered by your Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, or VA insurance, or if your employer provides Minimal Essential Coverage that is affordable, you’re not eligible to enroll in a marketplace plan. If you are struggling financially, there are options for tax penalty exemptions.
- Health insurance is too expensive. The government now provides subsidies to many working individuals and families that help lower the cost of monthly premiums and co-pays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs.
- The insurance marketplace website doesn’t work. Yes, HealthCare.gov did have a rocky start, and many people experienced glitches with the system. But improvements are continuing to make the site more reliable. And there is always phone support for people who have trouble with the website or don’t have access to a computer.
- You can’t talk to anyone about the process. signupSC has a network of people ready and waiting to provide assistance. Anyone can call or make an in-person appointment to receive one-on-one guidance.
- The health insurance doesn’t cover anything. The law requires the plans to be comprehensive; they cover prescriptions, doctor’s visits, pregnancy, behavioral health services, hospitalization and more. The best thing to do is compare plans and shop around before you make a decision. If you have regular medications or a particular doctor you like, check with them to see if they accept a certain plan.
Those with questions and concerns can visit www.signupsc.palmettoproject.org to do their own research or take advantage of the team members available to help. The Palmetto Project is a nonprofit so its services are available free of charge.
“We don’t represent any health insurance companies, so there’s no incentive for us,” said Sonia Donnelly, signupSC Outreach Coordinator. “We just want to make sure people have access to accurate and impartial information to make the best decision for their family.”
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