South Carolina is a delightful place to live. Rich in culture and natural beauty, South Carolina’s overall cost of living is well below the national average. Housing, grocery, transportation and health all come at really affordable prices in South Carolina.
Securing your health against unexpected crises is both beneficial and wise. Residents in South Carolina are required to have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Health insurance safeguards you, your family and your finances from unexpected medical expenses. It provides coverage for some, in many cases, most of your medical costs.
In South Carolina, there are many ways you can obtain health insurance. One way is through your employer. Employers in South Carolina sometimes offer health insurance coverage to their employees. It’s important to note that it is not mandatory for employers to offer health insurance to their workers.
If you are not covered by your employer or you are self-employed, you could buy directly from an insurance company or from a broker or agent. The agent takes care of the enrollment process and payment of premiums. They also help you decide on which plan is best suited for you.
You could also purchase government-provided health insurance plans. These programs are the cheapest but not all residents of South Carolina are eligible for these plans. To be eligible, you must meet certain criteria. Below are highlighted government programs, what they offer and those who qualify.
The Medicaid is a free program making it the most affordable option for qualified South Carolinians. Residents that qualify are low-income individuals (having income below 138% of the federal poverty level), people with disabilities and pregnant women.
Medicare is also a government health program but unlike Medicaid, it’s not entirely free. Medicare requires you to pay some premiums for coverage. However, Medicare is more affordable than private health plans. The program is available only to the elderly of ages 65 and above and individuals with a qualifying disability.
Medicare is comprised of three parts that offers coverage for different services:
Often known as hospital insurance, part A is free and provides coverage for hospital stays, hospice care, skilled nursing facility care and some home healthcare services.
Part B is called medical insurance. Premiums for this part depend on your income and it covers doctors’ services, outpatient treatments, preventive care services and medical supplies.
Part D is also known as prescription drug insurance. It covers your prescription medicines and some necessary vaccinations. Cost of premiums for this part is based on the type of plan you choose.
Factors Affecting Rates Of Premiums In South Carolina
Certain factors contribute to the amount you pay for health insurance. These factors are considered by health insurance providers when deciding how much to allocate to you as premium cost. These factors are relative and they can either raise or lower your monthly premiums. Some of them include;
While some areas are charged more, some areas pay less. There are 46 counties in South Carolina and these counties have individual rating systems. So premium costs vary across all counties in the state.
This is a key factor in determining premium cost. Premium costs are directly proportional to age. Generally, older people pay more for health insurance while younger ones pay less. It’s been observed that older individuals tend to need more medical care as they age and so are charged higher by healthcare providers.
Occupation is another factor that determines how much you pay on health insurance. Your monthly premium cost as an individual also depends on your level of exposure to hazards and dangers. For example; a miner would pay more on health insurance compared to a salesman.
Tobacco Use/ Smoking
Smoking is injurious to health and raises your risk of being sick. Smokers are susceptible to diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung and heart disease, type 2 diabetes, tuberculosis etc. smokers in South Carolina pay high rates compared to non smokers on health insurance.
Smoking is unhealthy. Quitting the habit not only saves you some money but also improves your health status and quality of life.
Body Mass Index
BMI affects the rates you pay for health insurance.health insurance providers use the BMI to estimate how much your policy would cost. Having a high body mass index is unhealthy; it raises the risk of having diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease and so on.
Being able to maintain a healthy BMI is good, both for you and your finances.
All plans do not offer the same coverage limit, premiums and out of pocket deductibles. While some plans have low premiums and high deductibles, some have high premiums and low deductibles.Your premium is also affected by the plan you choose.
Some other factors that affect your premium rates in South Carolina are policy duration, coinsurance and copays.
Most Affordable Health Insurance In South Carolina By Metal Tier
South Carolina private insurance exchange uses a metal tier system to categorise plans and their coverage limit. These tiers include gold, silver, expanded bronze , bronze and catastrophic. These plans have varying coverage limits, premiums, deductibles and out of pocket expenses.
This is the lowest tier and most affordable. However, it is not available to everyone. You must either be under the age of 30 or have a hardship exemption to qualify for this plan.
The most affordable Catastrophic plan is BlueEssentials Catastrophic 1 offered by BlueCross BlueShield at $215 per month on average.
The bronze plan is a low cost plan. This plan offers low monthly premiums but also, high out of pocket maximums and deductibles. Bronze plans cover up to 60% of your medical cost and lets you pay 40%.
This tier may be a good option for young residents who scarcely need medical care throughout the year. But also note that although it is cheap, you’d have to pay more out of pocket in cases where you begin to see the doctor frequently and have emergencies that require medical services before your coverage kicks in.
Ambetter Essential Care 1 is the cheapest Bronze plan in South Carolina which costs $247 per month on average.
This plan was introduced recently to extend the coverage of the bronze plan. While the bronze offers coverage up to 60% of medical expenses, the expanded bronze covers up to 65%.
The cheapest Expanded bronze plan in South Carolina is Ambetter Essential Care 10. It costs $260 per month on average.
The silver plans offer a balance between the high monthly premiums of gold plans and high out of pocket maximums of the lower tiers. It’s a good plan for residents with average medical needs.silver plans cover up to 70 % of your medical costs leaving you to pay 30%.
Silver plan also qualifies policyholders for CSR (Cost Sharing Reductions) and premium tax credit that further lowers your premiums.
The cheapest Silver plan in South Carolina is the Ambetter Balanced Care 30 which costs $317 per month on average.
This is the highest tier and most expensive in terms of monthly premiums. The gold plans have the highest monthly premiums and the lowest out of pocket deductibles.
It’s ideal for individuals who require medical services often, have expensive prescriptions and expect high medical costs. These plans offer coverage up to 90% of your medical costs.
In South Carolina, the cheapest gold plan is the Ambetter Secure Care 5 which costs $379 per month on average.