Beaufort Memorial Hospital has extended its free one-on-one assistance program through the end of March, and added additional days and hours in order to accommodate uninsured area residents wishing to sign up for coverage available under the Affordable Care Act.
The service is now available Tuesday through Friday at the Beaufort Memorial Medical & Administrative Center located at 990 Ribaut Road, Beaufort, across from the main hospital campus. Hospital employees who have completed training as federally certified application counselors are available to answer questions and guide individuals through the through the new Health Insurance Marketplace online application.
Under the new Health Insurance Marketplace or “exchange,” Beaufort and Jasper county residents have the choice of several insurance plans offered by three companies. The plans are divided into three levels of coverage — bronze, silver and gold — based on how much the plan will pay for your health care and what services are covered.
“The counselors are not selling plans,” said BMH Chief Financial Officer Jeff White. “They can tell you if your doctor or hospital is a member of a particular plan. They can answer questions and help you get through the application process. But what plan you choose will be up to you.”
Beaufort Memorial coordinated the program with AccessHealth Lowcountry, a network of area healthcare providers that serves as a clearinghouse of medical services for low-income uninsured residents in Beaufort and Jasper counties. Some 32,000 people in the two counties are believed to be uninsured. Most of them will need to purchase insurance by March 31 to avoid paying a tax penalty of $95.
To schedule an appointment with a BMH counselor to learn more about signing up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace, call 843-522-5585. Counselors are available on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, and Wednesday afternoons.