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Clock is ticking to get healthcare coverage for 2017 - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Clock is ticking to get healthcare coverage for 2017

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The front page of Healthcare.gov boldly warns Jan. 31 is the signup deadline. (Source: healthcare.gov) The front page of Healthcare.gov boldly warns Jan. 31 is the signup deadline. (Source: healthcare.gov)
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

The deadline to register for healthcare for 2017 and avoid a costly penalty is 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

By registering before the deadline, your coverage will go into effect on March 1.

The penalty for not having some kind of insurance is $695 dollars for adults and half that amount for children.

Healthcare agencies and assistance groups have had people coming in throughout the day to sign up.

“What we’re looking for is income information, personally identifiable information, [such as age, social security number, and the people in the tax household, etc.], then we look to see what types of plans are out there, help people create accounts and make sure they’re putting all the information in correctly,” Palmetto Project Outreach Coordinator Sonia Donnelly says.

A question on many people’s minds, however, what does the future of the Affordable Care Act look like? Many have been wondering about President Donald Trump's recent executive order regarding the health care law and his plan to repeal and replace it. Officials say South Carolinians covered through the ACA, or those who sign up by the deadline, won’t have to worry about their coverage for 2017.

South Carolina Department of Insurance Director Ray Farmer says South Carolina is down to one carrier who writes on the exchange, down from a maximum of five in the past. That fading competition, he says, means South Carolinians are at a disadvantage because there are fewer companies to choose from.

Farmer also says along with narrowed networks, customers have seen higher premiums. He says 88 percent who get their coverage on the exchange has some sort of subsidy, but costs have gone up approximately 27 percent this year alone. Since 2014, costs have risen about 45 percent.

"The Affordable Care Act needs to be fixed," Farmer says.

The latest number of South Carolinans who have enrolled on the exchange is approximately 217,000, about the same number as last year, Farmer says. He says he expects that number to rise after the deadline.

Officials are encouraging folks to sign up sooner, rather than later to give yourself plenty of time.

Donnelly says it will take about an hour to an hour and a half to fully register online at www.healthcare.gov.

For more information on the deadline and possible penalties, visit https://www.healthinsurance.org/faqs/what-are-the-deadlines-for-obamacares-open-enrollment-period/

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