SC Dept. of Insurance agrees to 31.3% rate hike for Affordable Care Act plan premiums

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

By Diane Lee (WSPA)

(SPARTANBURG, SC)

Open enrollment is just around the corner. And now hundreds of thousands of people in South Carolina are getting some disturbing news.

The SC Department of Insurance just approved a 31.3% rate hike for insurance premiums under the affordable care act.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, the only marketplace provider in South Carolina, requested that hike in part, because it says it lost money last year.

But the provider says, the majority, 20% of the hike, is because the Federal Governement is looking to drop its funding for a large subsidy called the cost sharing reduction.

Janet Cardenas signed up for an ACA plan after leaving her job in August, and is disturbed to hear about the hike.

“Concerns me quite a bit, because we don’t know how much it’s going to be. And I’m currently looking for work, so I’m on a pretty tight budget right now.”

Before people like Cardenas renew their plans, it’s more important than ever to look at the cost difference and explore the options.

Here the state provides estimates of how premiums will change.

For instance, a 40-year-old non-smoker living in Greenville who has the lowest price “silver” plan, would see a $120 increase per month, if they don’t get the subsidy.

So the people who don’t get a subsidy will see the largest increase, while the ones that have subsidies will see on average a $10 monthly increase, according to the State.

Cardenas only gets a small subsidy.

“I don’t know what the solution is, but I’m kind of upset about what’s going on right now,” she said.

Insurance agent Mark Eoute says it’s more important than ever to examine all options, including a Health Spending Account, or a plan off the marketplace.

“Do your homework, know realistically what your medical expenditures have been and then take that to an insurance expert who can probably advise you for your particular situation,” said Eoute.

As for the rate hike, it may be rolled back a bit if the Federal Government continues to fund the subsidy, but the expectation is that won’t happen. We should know before October, 2017.