Hospital can help local residents navigate health-care changes

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Janice Dabney

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, U.S. citizens are required to have health insurance – with few exceptions. Key initiatives of the Affordable Care Act (i.e., healthcare reform) are fast approaching Oct. 1. These are new initiatives and there will be a lot of surrounding confusion.
As a key health provider in the Lancaster area, we want to provide education to our community members in an easy-to-understand way, as well as help them sign up for insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplaces, Medicaid and/or assistance with their premiums for medical coverage.  
Health Insurance
Health Insurance Marketplaces will have open enrollment beginning Tuesday, Oct. 1, allowing citizens access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance coverage.
Depending on household income, some individuals may be eligible for financial assistance – or subsidies – toward the cost of the premium.
All Marketplace plans offer the same set of comprehensive benefits. The best news is that individuals can no longer be denied coverage because of a pre-existing health condition. Some of the essential health benefits include:
u Preventive care and wellness services
u Doctor visits
u Prescription drugs
u Hospital and Emergency Department care
u Lab services
u Chronic disease management
u Pediatric services
Medicaid expansion
While South Carolina has chosen not to expand Medicaid, government subsidies to help citizens obtain coverage from the Health Insurance Marketplaces are available, depending on income and other qualifications. We still have many individuals in our community who qualify for Medicaid coverage even though our state is not expanding Medicaid coverage. But they must enroll. In South Carolina, these individuals can enroll at any time and coverage can start immediately.
Open enrollment for health coverage on a Marketplace and for Medicaid expansion states runs  Oct. 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014. Those who qualify and enroll in 2013 will have coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014.
Beginning Oct. 1, Springs Memorial Hospital will have qualified staff available to help the members of our community navigate and sign up for one of these programs. They simply need to call (803) 313-3123 to make an appointment.
We’ll also have translators available to help with any language barriers.
While many changes are occurring in health care, our commitment to providing quality care remains constant. We are committed not only to supporting the community’s health needs, but also to educating and informing the people we serve.

Janice Dabney is chief executive
officer of Springs Memorial Hospital.