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SC McDonald’s Employees #GetCovered While at Work

With only a week left before the deadline to sign up for  health insurance  in 2014 without penalties, groups across South Carolina and the nation are hard at work helping families get enrolled in the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, enrolling “young invincibles” in a marketplace plan is critical to the success of the new healthcare system. Here’s the story of one woman’s strategy for reaching young, low-wage workers in rural South Carolina — she meets them where they are.

McDonald EmployyesOver the last several months, Anne Fulcher, a Certified Application Counselor at Rural Health Services Health Center, has enrolled over 150 young adults employed at McDonald’s restaurants near Aiken, SC.

All of those enrolled were under 35 years of age and all qualified for tax credits.  Ms. Fulcher partnered with one of the local McDonald’s franchises and visited all seven of their stores, some more than once, between January and March 2014.   Many of these young adults have never had health insurance and were very excited about the addition of health coverage to  their lives.  Ms. Fulcher experienced similar results at local pawn shops and child care centers.

Worksite enrollment events have proven to be a best practice to reach the young and invincible in South Carolina and Georgia. During the week, most uninsured, low-wage workers are unable to take time off of work to learn about the Affordable Care Act or the coverage options available to them. Or they may not understand how affordable these plans could be for them and their families. Worksite enrollment strategies allow us to reach an audience not captured at other faith-based or community functions.

You can bet Anne Fulcher and her team at Rural Health Services, Inc. will be back at it this week working hard to help more of South Carolina’s uninsured have a chance to sign up for this important coverage.

Another enrollment event will be held on:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | McDonald’s
From 2:30 until the last employee who wants to enroll completes the process
1831 Georgia Avenue
North Augusta, SC 29841

 After open enrollment ends, worksite education fairs may prove equally effective to raise awareness about access to affordable health coverage in the Marketplace during special enrollment and open enrollment periods.

Congratulations Rural Health Services, Inc. on this successful best practice to enroll the young and invincible!  For more information, contact Ms. Fulcher at (803) 593-0261 or Gail Diggs, Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator at (803) 380-7013.

signupSC | SC Appleseed launches new healthcare Marketplace tool

Sign Up SC logo

signupSC is a website specifically built for providing valuable, credible, and up to date information on the Federal Health Care Marketplace. This site will serve as a resource for individuals, families and advocates in South Carolina to better understand how the Marketplace works.

With 117 days left to enroll in the health exchanges, we hope signupSC will help you better navigate the enrollment process. For those able to purchase health insurance by December 23, 2013 through the Marketplace, affordable, quality health insurance will be available for them starting January 1, 2014 – some for the very first time. While there have been challenges with getting the HealthCare.gov website up and running, there have been significant improvements made to the site and it can now handle more then 50,000 concurrent users. 

signup SC screenshot 2

We understand how critical it is for individuals and families to have access to quality, affordable healthcare. Many South Carolinians are suffering economic hardships and have preexisting medical conditions, previously making healthcare totally out of reach. Inability to afford healthcare can result in further hardship and crippling debt, so SC Appleseed is dedicated to helping those in need understand and access these important benefits.

Through  signupSC, we will:

  •  provide accurate information and helpful links to get enrolled
  • create a central place for you to find basic information about health insurance
  • help you learn how to protect yourself from being scammed
  • debunk the myths surrounding the Affordable Care Act
  • provide information about local resources throughout the state, including times and locations for Navigators (organizations who have been trained to get people enrolled).

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Please share signupSC with others – We can make the Affordable Care Act a success, and through reliable information found on this site, we are one step closer to helping those who are uninsured find coverage.

Kaiser study finds ObamaCare premiums “lower than expected”


The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, a leading health policy research organization, reported “lower than expected” premiums for ObamaCare’s new insurance exchanges in a major study released last week.

With open enrollment in new insurance marketplaces set to begin Oct. 1, the Foundation compiled premium data from the new marketplaces in the 17 states where it is fully available and released a variety of figures showing how much consumers will pay if they choose to purchase coverage individually.  Last week, they publicly released comprehensive data about their rates and the impact of tax credits that will offset part of the costs for low- and moderate-income families.

The study is among the first to show in detail what a variety of exchange-based health plans will cost people of different ages and incomes under ObamaCare — a major source of debate between supporters and opponents of the law. Kaiser researchers looked specifically at states’ largest cities, plus the District of Columbia, and how much young adults, families of four and older couples will have to pay for nonemployer-based health coverage in those areas.
In Baltimore, for example, a 25-year-old will pay $179 per month for the second lowest cost “silver” plan and $115 per month for the cheapest available option, the lowest cost “bronze” plan. Those monthly premiums drop to $144 and $80, respectively, when researchers assumed that the 25-year-old was eligible for a tax credit based on an income of $25,000 per year.

For a family of four, including two 40-year-old adults, the monthly premium for the second lowest cost “silver” plan would be $683, or $409 with a tax credit based on an income of $60,000. For the lowest cost “bronze” plan, the family would pay $437 monthly or $164 with the tax credit factored in.

Overall, a single 40-year-old who is eligible for ObamaCare’s tax credit could pay a minimum of $97 per month for health coverage in Hartford, Conn., or a maximum of $168 per month in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Researchers with Kaiser wrote that “while premiums will vary significantly across the country, they are generally lower than expected.”

The study did not seek to compare expected premium prices under ObamaCare to current prices on the individual market but stated that 15 of the 18 areas examined had premiums below the level most recently projected by the Congressional Budget Office.

“We estimate that the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office imply that the premium for a 40-year-old in the second lowest cost silver plan would average $320 per month nationally,” researchers wrote. “Fifteen of the eighteen rating areas we examined have premiums below this level, suggesting that the cost of coverage for consumers and the federal budgetary cost for tax credits will be lower than anticipated.”

ObamaCare requires most people to carry health insurance or face a fine starting in 2014.  While most people receive coverage through their jobs or a federal program like Medicare, some will have to purchase insurance through the new marketplaces, which open for enrollment on Oct. 1. The full premium costs for every state exchange will be available on that date.

This article can be found at TheHill.com

More articles on the Kaiser study:

19 SC Health Centers receive grants from Obama Administration for insurance enrollment assistance

health-insuranceOn July 10, 2013, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced $150 million in grant awards to 1,159 health centers across the nation (19 of which are in South Carolina) to enroll uninsured Americans in new health coverage options made available by the Affordable Care Act. With these funds, health centers are expected to hire an additional 2,900 outreach and eligibility assistance workers to assist millions of people nationwide with enrollment into affordable health coverage.

Health centers have a long history of providing eligibility assistance to patients along with delivering high-quality, primary health care services in communities across the nation.  Today, health centers serve more than 21 million patients annually. With these awards, which health centers in all 50 states have received, consumers will get help understanding their coverage options through the new Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program; determine their eligibility and what financial help they can get; and enroll in new affordable health coverage options.

19 Health Centers Receiving Awards in South Carolina:

Health Center City Award Amount
CARE SOUTH CAROLINA INC Hartsville $208,457
FAMILY HEALTH CENTERS, INC. Orangeburg $124,571
HOPEHEALTH INC Florence $155,899

These awards, issued by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), complement and aligns with other federal efforts, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services-funded Navigator program.

Today’s announcement is part of the administration’s larger effort to make applying for health coverage as easy as possible. The new, consumer-focused HealthCare.gov website and the 24-hour-a-day consumer call center help Americans prepare for open enrollment and ultimately sign up for health coverage.  These new tools will help Americans understand their coverage options and select the plan that best suits their needs when open enrollment in the new Health Insurance Marketplace begins October 1, 2013.

“Health centers are excited to help individuals in their communities  take advantage of the benefits of new health insurance coverage options that start in January, 2014,” said HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield, Ph.D, R.N. “Having trained, face-to-face assistance in enrollment from trusted resources at local health centers means that more individuals will get the help they need.”

For a list of health centers receiving this funding, visit: http://www.hrsa.gov/about/news/2013tables/outreachandenrollment/.

To learn more about the Affordable Care Act, visit www.HealthCare.gov.  To learn more about HRSA’s Health Center Program, visit http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about/index.html.

The Truth Is…Health Insurance Makes a Difference in Health



As South Carolina’s state Medicaid Director Tony Keck continues to tell state policy makers that expanding the Medicaid program to bring healthcare insurance to the uninsured is not right for SC, we learn from the sound research of the Commonwealth Fund that this is absolutely untrue.

A recent study reported that people who gained insurance coverage through Oregon’s Medicaid program experienced better access to care, increased detection of depression and diabetes, and reduced out-of-pocket costs. Yet blood pressure control, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels did not significantly improve. While some have said these findings suggest insurance coverage may not lead to better health, a new post on The Commonwealth Fund Blog argues that previous research leaves little doubt that insurance has a beneficial effect on health status over time. 

Read more about how SC Appleseed will continue to  work hard to ensure the smooth implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and will not forget that Medicaid expansion is the right thing for South Carolina.


Medicaid Expansion in SC – We Continue to Fight


This week, Families USA and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Policies released a study revealing something we have known for quite some time – expanding the Medicaid program as called for in the Affordable Care Act has solid public support. In fact, in polling a broad mix of residents in the five southern states of AL, GA, LA, MS, and SC, they received a 62% favorable response rate. Interestingly, the results from  South Carolinians were the most positive with

65.2% of respondents supporting Medicaid expansion for our state.

A similar poll done by Winthrop University in April 2013 found slightly more than half of South Carolinians say they support Medicaid expansion. 

Yet, despite having the support of most South Carolinians, Governor Nikki Haley and the South Carolina Legislature have resisted the Medicaid Expansion and refused to accept the federal funding for expansion this year.  Simply put, they are out-of-step with their constituents.

Those of us fighting for the expansion understand that not only will broader Medicaid coverage save lives and end unnecessary suffering, it will also stimulate job growth and the economy in our state. Declining the Medicaid expansion now means that even as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation begins, more than 200,000 people in our state will continue to have no health insurance coverage. Here at SC Appleseed, we will continue to fight to close the coverage gap that impacts our working poor.


While we will work hard to ensure the smooth implementation of the Affordable Care Act, we also will not forget that Medicaid expansion is the right thing for South Carolina. We want to thank those Senators who worked so hard this week to include Medicaid expansion in the budget and we hope you will share in our appreciation by contacting the following:
  • Karl B. Allen
  • Paul G. Campbell, Jr.
  • Raymond E. Cleary, III
  • Creighton E. Coleman
  • Robert Ford
  • C. Bradley Hutto
  • Darrell Jackson
  • Kevin L. Johnson
  • Joel Lourie
  • Gerald Malloy
  • John W. Matthews, Jr.
  • J. Thomas McElveen, III
  • J. Yancey McGill
  • Floyd Nicholson
  • Glenn G. Reese
  • John L. Scott, Jr.
  • Nikki G. Setzler
  • Vincent A. Sheheen
  • Kent M. Williams
We are not done. We will be working the rest of this year to make sure this message is heard. We understand that the will of the people is to expand Medicaid to ensure that hardworking, low-income individuals in our state have access to quality healthcare.
The full polling report, “The Deep South and Medicaid Expansion: The View from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina,” is available at www.jointcenter.org/research/the-deep-south-and-medicaid-expansion

A Simpler Way to Apply for Health Care


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Tuesday, April 30, 2013 that the application for health coverage has been simplified and significantly shortened. The application for individuals without health insurance has been reduced from twenty-one to three pages, and the application for families is reduced by two-thirds. The consumer friendly forms are much shorter than industry standards for health insurance applications today.

In addition, for the first time consumers will be able to fill out one simple application and see their entire range of health insurance options, including plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and tax credits that will help pay for premiums.

The applications released today, which can be submitted starting on October 1, can be found here: http://cciio.cms.gov/resources/other/index.html#hie

Continue reading

Expanding Medicaid Will Benefit Both Low-Income Women and Their Babies


For SC Appleseed and our partners in South Carolina, this is yet another example of how accepting the federal dollars for Medicaid support would not only help close gaps in the health coverage, but could be a critical game changer for countless low-income South Carolinians.

According to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priority, nearly 6 million women between the ages of 19-44 who do not have insurance could gain health coverage if all states expand their Medicaid programs in 2014 under health reform.

When women have health coverage before becoming pregnant as well as between pregnancies, they are healthier during pregnancy and their babies are more likely to be healthy at birth, research shows. Yet today, millions of low-income women do not have access to continuous health coverage. Instead, under current eligibility rules, many women become eligible for Medicaid only when they become pregnant, and then lose that coverage soon after giving birth.

The Medicaid expansion is therefore a vital opportunity for states to close gaps in the health coverage  of low-income women, many of whom can only gain coverage when they are pregnant under current  eligibility rules. Ensuring continuous coverage would improve the health of women and their babies,  which would lower Medicaid costs related to delivery and postnatal care. Read the full report here.

Find Your Nearest Free Clinics and Rural Health Clinics in SC

tb_Clinics_450x300Where are the nearest free clinics and rural health clinics in your area?

Find out here with the Access Health Directory, provided by the South Carolina Hospital Association:

Free Clinic Directory

Rural Health Clinic Directory

Mapping Out the Benefits of Medicaid Expansion

Medicaid is essential to our healthcare system. Without it, many individuals would be unable to have their medical needs met. Each state is given the option to participate in Medicaid Expansion, beginning in January 2014. In order to make an informed decision about how this expansion could impact South Carolina families, one must look at the need in our state. Medicaid Expansion is not only intended to help families, but also individuals who have struggled to meet healthcare standards, despite being at or near the poverty level. The following map of South Carolina counties displays how many uninsured people could benefit if the state accepts the Medicaid Expansion:

Uninsured Non-elderly Adults SC 2010 Under 138 % Map 2