Required services to cost SC health plan $70M

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina's insurance plan for public employees expects to spend about $70 million to provide the preventive services that federal health care law requires insurance plans offer at no out-of-pocket cost to workers.

The director of the employees' insurance program said Thursday that state experts estimate the required services will cost between $65 million and $75 million to provide. Stephen Van Camp says that will likely start in 2014.

The health care law passed by Congress requires insurance plans provide without co-payments services that include screenings for various health problems, immunizations and supplements. The idea is that such services reduce long-term health care costs. Van Camp says when and whether the savings would be realized is unknown.

He says the upfront cost will require either increased premiums or benefit changes.