Haley: South Carolina will not set up health insurance exchange

A Supreme Court case will determine if HealthCare.gov customers, including more than 154,000 South Carolinians, qualify for federal subsidies to reduce the amount they pay for health insurance.

South Carolina will not establish its own insurance exchange, no matter what the Supreme Court decides this summer, Gov. Nikki Haley said Tuesday.

That decision may affect more than 154,000 South Carolinians who receive federal subsidies to pay for their Obamacare policies, a new federal report shows.

More than 90 percent of Affordable Care Act customers in South Carolina receive financial assistance to reduce the amount they pay for insurance each month.

South Carolina ranks among the top 10 states with the highest rate of customers who received this financial assistance, the report noted.

In South Carolina, Affordable Care Act customers qualify for an average $281 monthly discount.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide this summer if they can continue to receive those subsidies.

The plaintiffs in King v. Burwell argued before the high court this spring that the federal Affordable Care Act specifically makes those subsidies only available to customers in states that established their own health insurance marketplace.

But South Carolina, and more than 30 other states, use the federal marketplace, commonly called HealthCare.gov.

The court’s decision, expected later this month, may make coverage unaffordable for most Obamacare customers in South Carolina.

Haley, who spoke in Charleston on Tuesday to a group of state drug and alcohol abuse directors, told The Post and Courier that she will watch the outcome of the case, but said this state will not set up its own insurance exchange.

“We’ve had all the governors get together. We’ve been talking about King v. Burwell for a long time to try to figure out and prepare,” Haley said. “We’re all trying to prepare our states for the options. I think we’ll have to wait and see, but it will certainly be interesting to watch.”

The U.S. Census estimates 730,000 South Carolinians were uninsured in 2013. That number is likely lower now because of the Affordable Care Act, but the new federal report does not specifically address if the law reduced the number of residents without insurance.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.