S.C. Insurance Director: 'Obamacare' policies will cost more next year

Enrollment for Affordable Care Act plans reopens on Nov. 1. File

The S.C. Department of Insurance director predicts the same four companies that sold health insurance plans to South Carolina residents on the federal exchange during the Affordable Care Act's first enrollment window will offer those plans again later this year.

There may be one key difference though - the price of those plans will go up, Director Ray Farmer speculated.

"I think they'll be different. We'll know in just a few months what that difference is. I think they will increase, but I would not hazard a guess at this point," Farmer said Thursday.

He said the department will know by September how much the prices of those insurance policies will change.

A spokeswoman for Consumer's Choice Health Plan, one of four insurers that sold plans to South Carolina residents on the federal exchange, agreed. "Based on national historical trends, there is usually an increase," said Adrian Grimes, vice president of communications for Consumer's Choice.

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Blue Choice and Coventry One also sold "Obamacare" plans to South Carolinians during open enrollment, which technically ended March 31. It was extended through mid-April for some customers who encountered difficulty signing up on HealthCare.gov. Enrollment for Affordable Care Act plans reopens on the website in November.

During the federal health care law's first open enrollment period, the S.C. Department of Insurance reports that 95,393 South Carolina residents picked a plan and paid their first month's premium through mid-May - a requirement for true enrollment. The deadline to make that first payment was May 1.

Farmer said 86 percent of those customers qualified for a tax credit to offset the cost of their insurance payment.

Grimes said Consumer's Choice Health Plan sold 50 percent of all the policies purchased by South Carolinians on the federal exchange.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.