Lowcountry residents who sign up for a Consumers’ Choice Health Plan policy next year will have access to doctors and health care professionals at the Medical University of South Carolina, the health insurance co-op announced Wednesday.

Enrollment window

The federal government will open health insurance enrollment through the online insurance marketplace on Oct. 1, but coverage under these plans won’t start until Jan. 1.

The enrollment period will remain open through March.

Anyone without health insurance is expected to purchase a policy to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act or face future financial penalties.

For more information, visit www.healthcare.gov.

“Consumers’ Choice Health Plan, South Carolina’s health insurance co-op, and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) have entered into a collaborative partnership to provide consumers with comprehensive patient-centered care,” a press release about the partnership reported.

Residents can sign up for an insurance policy through Consumers’ Choice Health Plan starting Oct. 1. Three other insurance companies will also offer health insurance plans for South Carolinians through the federal health insurance marketplace, which has been established by the Affordable Care Act.

Some residents with low incomes will qualify for federal subsidies to help pay for the insurance. Coverage under these plans begins Jan. 1.

Consumers’ Choice is a new non-profit insurance co-op. Unlike private insurance companies, insurance co-ops return profits to policyholders, instead of shareholders. It is still unclear if the insurance policies offered by Consumers’ Choice will be less expensive than policies sold by private insurance companies. None of the new insurance policy prices have been released by the S.C. Department of Insurance.

The new co-op, based in Charleston, was established last year by a $87.8 million federal loan.

Jerry Burgess, Consumers’ Choice Health Plan President and CEO, said in the press release, “MUSC will be a ‘linchpin’ provider in our network.”

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.