How the Affordable Care Act affects South Carolinians

WASHINGTON (WCIV) -- Anyone in the U.S. who currently does not have health insurance will be required to have it by Jan. 1. Citizens are allowed to get it through new state exchanges, or through more traditional methods using a private agent, Medicare or Medicaid.

About 15 percent of South Carolinians will be affected by the new law, officials said.

Employees at Trident United Way want to make sure every body understands the new health insurance rules through the Affordable Care Act.

They have staff standing by around the clock, but their biggest message is one of patience.

"Tomorrow is not an urgency. Folks are applying starting tomorrow for coverage that begins in January 2014," said Anne Bergin, Director of Health and Public Policy for Trident United Way.

Open enrollment for health insurance begins Tuesday; by law, individuals have until Jan. 1 to be enrolled. But the open enrollment doesn't end until March 31, giving people some extra time to decide what they want and some leeway before they'll be fined if they don't abide.

"We have four companies on the exchange, and a total of 16 companies off the exchange," S.C. Dept. of Insurance Director Ray Farmer said.

The cost of each plan varies depending on the size of your household and how much risk you want to take.

There will also be new government navigators to guide you through the process.

"The more people that can get enrolled in coverage and can get a relationship with a doctor in a primary office to get preventive care as opposed to disease management care on the other end, we think is an important thing to do," Bergin said.

But if you decide to the Affordable Care Act and do not purchase health insurance, you will have to pay a fee; the first year you'll pay $95 per adult and $47.50 per child.

Farmer said the free would increase each year.

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