3rd year of signups begins with fewer choices in SC

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – South Carolinians who buy their health insurance through the federal exchange will see higher costs and fewer choices.

The third year of sign-ups for private, taxpayer-subsidized coverage sold through HealthCare.gov begins Sunday.

The state’s largest provider, BlueCross BlueShield, and its subsidiary BlueChoice have expanded their policy offerings for 2016.

But two companies aren’t offering any policies in 2016. Consumers’ Choice announced last week it’s shutting down. Assurant Health announced plans in June to exit the health insurance marketplace.

UnitedHealthcare Insurance is new to the exchange for 2016, but it’s selling policies in only five counties.

On average, the cost of South Carolina policies purchased through the exchange is increasing 11 percent.

The biggest hikes of up to 39 percent are occurring in policies sold by Aetna Health.

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