Health Care

More | | | Editor

Health care signups continue

Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014 6:05 PM
Last updated Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 1:08 AM
  • Follow Latest News

CLEARWATER — The first time Annie Quarles tried to sign up through the health insurance marketplace in Octo­ber, she spent more than two hours on the phone just to get her application in, much less pick a plan.

Anne Fulcher, a certified application counselor, helped Annie Quarles get health insurance.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Anne Fulcher, a certified application counselor, helped Annie Quarles get health insurance.

But when she went to see Anne Fulcher at Margaret J. Weston Community Health Cen­ter on Friday, “she just breezed through” and got her enrolled, said Quarles, 58, of Edge­field.

She likes the family plan and the $268 a month premium, which includes dental. It is offered by a nonprofit, member-owned cooperative and is available only in South Carolina.

After a flurry of activity toward the end of last year for those who wanted insurance coverage to start Jan. 1, there is increasing activity as the government Web site is working well and the March 31 deadline looms for the end of the open enrollment period.

In a poll released last week by Gallup, 56 percent of the uninsured said they plan to enroll through the marketplaces, up from 50 percent in December, and 38 percent said they will pay the penalty for not having health insurance. Of those who say they will enroll, 21 percent said they have yet to visit the Web site or take any steps toward enrolling.

Quarles said some of it is probably apprehension. For people like her who are not good with computers, it can be a little daunting.

“I know people like that,” she said. “They’re scared to make that step.”

A lady at church told her about Fulcher.

“Thank God they told me that, because I still wouldn’t have signed up,” Quarles said.

As a home health aide, she said she does not have access to health insurance through her job and has not been getting care.

“I haven’t been for my yearly exam or my mammogram or just regular doctor’s appointments because they cost $100 out of your pocket,” Quarles said. Now that she has signed up, she will make those appointments “as soon as it kicks in,” she said.

That is the rewarding part for Fulcher, who was uninsured for two years when she went back to school and during that time broke her arm.

“I was treated so badly by a doctor’s office staff member because I didn’t have insurance that I vowed that for the rest of my career I was going to be working with the uninsured and underserved in health care,” she said.

She knows from personal experience that it is difficult for working people to get things done during the workday, so the clinic has added Saturday enrollment from 8 a.m. to noon. Businesses with more than five employees who want to sign up can call Fulcher to schedule a time for her to visit them, she said. Sometimes she heads out herself, as she did during a recent trip to a nearby McDonald’s.

“I enrolled all of the staff,” Fulcher said. “It was such a big hit that I’m going back.”

She is also having success finding good deals for a group that insurers desperately want to reach: those 30 and younger who are relatively healthy. A 27-year-old friend of her son needed insurance and got a Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan with a premium for less than $30 a month after subsidies.

“The rates for young people are very, very reasonable,” Fulcher said. A couple in their late 20s did even better: Her premium on a Humana plan in Augusta is 38 cents a month and his is $18 a month after subsidies, Fulcher said.

“And everybody was on the provider list,” she said.

Quarles went with Consumers Choice Health Plan, a nonprofit that is one of 24 state-based Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans that could be created under the Affordable Care Act.

After the first month of enrollment, 65 percent had chosen Consumers Choice, said Adrian Grimes, its vice president of corporate communications. That rate has gone down some, though she could not disclose actual numbers.

Those signing up might be motivated by the bottom line and not know it’s a different kind of insurance company, she said.

“Obviously our prices are very competitive,” Grimes said. “We’re proud of that.”

When it released the numbers of enrollees for the first three months, the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices also said how many had filled out an application and were eligible to enroll. In South Carolina, there were 74,162 eligible to enroll in a plan but less than a third actually chose one by Dec. 28.

“Based on that pipeline number, that tells you there are a lot of people that are online, they just haven’t punched the button yet for a specific company,” Grimes said. “Now that people know that (the Web site) does work, I do think we’ll see an uptick. And I think we’ll see a real uptick as we get closer to March 31.”

Fulcher said her clinic is booked through next week and the calls keep coming in. That’s why it is adding a third person to help with the coming tide of people who want to enroll.

“We anticipate the next two months to be rather hectic,” Fulcher said.

Learn how to apply

To reach certified application counselor Anne Fulcher with Rural Health Services Inc. at the Margaret J. Weston Community Health Center for help with enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, call (803) 593-0621 or (803) 226-1545

Comments (20) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
myfather15
57241
Points
myfather15 02/03/14 - 05:28 am
5
2
Bla, Bla, Bla

"“I was treated so badly by a doctor’s office staff member because I didn’t have insurance that I vowed that for the rest of my career I was going to be working with the uninsured and underserved in health care,” she said."

Ooooh, I'm SURE you were!!! What? Did the President buy an advertisement slot with the Augusta Chronicle? The ACA is a failure; and advertising it like it's a bag of doritos isn't going to work!! If this thing were so wonderful, people would flock to it in droves!! Seeing that they are advertising this more than Budweiser advertised in the Super Bowl, I'm a little suspicious.

hobbyhobs
16
Points
hobbyhobs 02/03/14 - 06:36 am
3
3
Just the facts.

I have been in the health care profession for over 30 years, went back to school DID break my arm and all was true. No untruths......No one paid my testimony it really did happen and I know how health care is and how this will help people.

vegasbaby
178
Points
vegasbaby 02/03/14 - 07:04 am
2
1
Consumers Choice health plan - a different kind of insurance

company... what does that mean? These rates sound very fishy... and how much of these people's health insurance "product" cost is being paid for w/ subsidy money. And also, if this is only offered in SC, is this FAIR.

southern2
7905
Points
southern2 02/03/14 - 07:53 am
6
2
Not a paid testimony....

If Obamacare is sooooooo great then why has my monthly premium escalated ten times the amount and my prescriptions skyrocketed? Sadly, my plan is still a better deal than most I've talked to.

To bad you can't buy a policy to protect you from the ills of Obama-Reid-Pelosi and their band of socialized followers.

Nell
10
Points
Nell 02/03/14 - 08:39 am
1
1
The penalty for no insurance is 1% of income

If people do not sign up for health insurance, they face a rude shock in 2015 when they submit their federal tax return for 2014. The tax penalty is 1% of income. For example, a person making $35,000 will pay a $350 penalty and still not have insurance coverage.

Nell
10
Points
Nell 02/03/14 - 08:51 am
3
4
The ACA is good for South Carolina -- if we expand Medicaid

The Affordable Care Act was intended to increase the number of people who have insurance and slow the growth of the cost of health care.

There are some really good things about the ACA. My 10-year-old grandchild was turned down because she had asthma, but, now can buy insurance. Subsidies make health insurance affordable for many people.

South Carolina should have expanded Medicaid. Not only did we lose the new coverage for people who need treatment for such problems as high blood pressure and diabetes, we lost some of the DSH payment to hospitals to cover the uninsured. The ACA is a lot better than what we had before.

corgimom
38705
Points
corgimom 02/03/14 - 09:22 am
1
3
Nell, your figures are

Nell, your figures are incorrect.

For 2014, the penalty for a single person not having insurance is $95.

corgimom
38705
Points
corgimom 02/03/14 - 09:27 am
3
4
hobbyhobs, I am sorry that a

hobbyhobs, I am sorry that a poster on here insinuated you were lying, because your story doesn't agree with his particular political views.

I believe your story. You would have no reason to lie.

He owes you an apology, let's see if he will do the right thing.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 02/03/14 - 09:38 am
5
1
26. What happens if I do not

26. What happens if I do not have minimum essential coverage or an exemption, and I cannot afford to make the shared responsibility payment when filing my tax return?

The IRS routinely works with taxpayers who owe amounts they cannot afford to pay. The law prohibits the IRS from using liens or levies to collect any individual shared responsibility payment. However, if you owe a shared responsibility payment, the IRS may offset that liability against any tax refund that may be due to you.

So in otherwords, if I make sure I break even when filing my tax return and don't receive a refund, then essentially I can refuse to get medical coverage, won't have to pay the yearly fee, and the IRS can't come after me for not buying Obamacare.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 02/03/14 - 09:40 am
3
1
23. If my income is so low

23. If my income is so low that I am not required to file a federal income tax return, do I need to do anything special to claim an exemption from the individual shared responsibility provision?

No. If you are not required to file a federal income tax return for a year because your gross income is below your return filing threshold, you are automatically exempt from the shared responsibility provision for that year and do not need to take any further action to secure an exemption. If you are not required to file a tax return for a year but file one anyway, you will be able to claim the exemption on your tax return.

So in otherwords, if I work under the table or don't make enough to file an income tax form, then I get an exemption and don't have to pay anything for Obamacare or penalty if I choose not to get coverage.

Bizkit
35737
Points
Bizkit 02/03/14 - 09:44 am
3
1
Physicians provide a service

Physicians provide a service so shop. If they treat you badly find another physician-just like any business person they are a mixed bag of talent and personalities. Tell the truth I've met some really nice docs who really were not that great, and some great physicians with the personality of a frog. I can handle a frog.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 02/03/14 - 10:03 am
4
1
"Sometimes she heads out

"Sometimes she heads out herself, as she did during a recent trip to a nearby McDonald’s.

“I enrolled all of the staff,” Fulcher said. “It was such a big hit that I’m going back.”

What would be the need to go back if all the staff was enrolled. I'd also like to know what their deductible and copays are. It sounds all fine and dandy to say I've enrolled "x" amount of individuals and their premium is "X" AFTER SUBSIDIES, but the main concern is copays and deductibles.

allhans
24963
Points
allhans 02/03/14 - 10:52 am
1
1
Some people who are on

Some people who are on Medicare and/or Medicaid continue to apply for Obamacare. Were they not informed that Obamacare was not intended for them?

willie7
1047
Points
willie7 02/03/14 - 11:40 am
0
0
God bless you hoppyhobs!!! It
Unpublished

God bless you hoppyhobs!!!
It is so wonderful that you have been there and willing to help others who need health insurance.
We need more people in the Augusta area like you.
Wish you the very best with your mission!!!!

Tom Corwin
10797
Points
Tom Corwin 02/03/14 - 12:35 pm
2
0
Allhans

I do not know who is continuing to apply but many people across the country found out they could qualify for Medicaid by going through the application process, even in states that did not expand Medicaid. The last figure I saw was around 6 million. There was an earlier campaign by the administration to make sure that people on Medicare knew they could not qualify for coverage through the exchanges but apparently not everyone got the message. When you go to healthcare.gov and start to apply, if you are Medicare eligible, it stops you and tells you very early on that you do not qualify for coverage through the exchange.

myfather15
57241
Points
myfather15 02/03/14 - 04:30 pm
0
0
Corgimom

I assure you, I'm not concerned in the least bit what YOU believe is the right thing to do!

corgimom
38705
Points
corgimom 02/03/14 - 05:32 pm
0
1
Well, myfather, you profess

Well, myfather, you profess that you are a Christian, and I think that you are basically a good guy, and I refuse to believe that you are the type of person that would be nasty to somebody in error, especially a nice lady who has never done anything to you, and that you would not apologize for that error.

Because that's what Christians, and gentlemen, and decent people do. And I think- I hope- that you are all three.

But I've been wrong about people before, who knows.

corgimom
38705
Points
corgimom 02/03/14 - 05:36 pm
1
1
ICL, she would need to go

ICL, she would need to go back to McDonald's because they are open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, and in order to enroll every employee there, she would need to go back multiple times.

I know, the story didn't really make that clear.

hobbyhobs
16
Points
hobbyhobs 02/03/14 - 10:28 pm
0
1
Answers to questions.

The owner of this particular McDonalds has 5 stores. Staff from all the stores comes to this one. All copays were less than $25 for primary care physician. If a person is on Medicare, Medicaid or Veterans benefits, they do NOT have to apply for the Affordable Care Act as are those who have insurance they are happy with. If a person's income is too low to purchase insurance through the market place, they are exempt from the penalty. When they enroll, they will receive an elligibility letter stating their exemption. If a person's premium sky rocketed it was because as of 1/1/14 all insurances were to be regulated and they could not gouge after this date. This is what the INSURANCE industry, not the Affordable Care Act..Finally after years and years of the insurance companies controlling the health care system they have finally been reined in. I've been in health care for over 30 years and have watch this commercial industry regulate out health system.

myfather15
57241
Points
myfather15 02/04/14 - 12:47 pm
1
0
Corgimom

Once again, it would absolutely impossible for me to care less about what YOU believe a "good Christian" is suppose to be, act like or do!!

Yes, you ARE wrong about me!! Because I will NEVER succumb to YOUR version of christianity!! So, according to YOUR standards, I AM A BAD GUY!!! I will wear that title proudly as well. So stop thinking I'm a better person, hoping I'm a better person; because I am exactly who I am and will NEVER be what YOU expect or hope me to be!!

Now, In my heart, I KNOW that I'm a good person. I'm a deeply caring and compassionate person!! But that's between me and God!! I don't need YOUR approval of my faith!! So if you don't mind, I'll let God be the judge of my Christianity!! Thanks

myfather15
57241
Points
myfather15 02/04/14 - 12:48 pm
1
0
My gosh, this is so sappy and

My gosh, this is so sappy and obviously pro ACA it's pathetic!! Why don't we all sit down around Christmas dinner and talk about getting enrolled!! Why don't me and my loved one, talk about getting enrolled over Valentines dinner!! What about Easter? St. Patricks day? Oooooh, I'm sure folks were sitting around over MLK Jr's birthday talking about getting enrolled!!

"If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy."

"To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world."

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

Christmas Eve rains to dry up

If Wednesday seemed particularly wet and dreary, you would be right. The day broke the record for the wettest Christmas Eve that Augusta has ever had.
Search Augusta jobs