COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - If you're looking for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act for next year, you have from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 to apply online at healthcare.gov.
The sooner deadline for 2018 coverage is one of the several changes to what's known as Obamacare. Insurance agents and navigators are encouraging people applying to reach out for help.
Lauren Pruitt is one Columbia wife and mother who's secured insurance through the ACA for herself and her family.
"I was working for a company that didn't provide insurance for the employees and I was constantly worried that if something did happen, then I could go into financial bankruptcy," Pruitt says.
Pruitt came to Joel Lourie's office first to get insurance but now works as a receptionist there. She will enroll again this year for the coverage. At a quick glance, she discovers some of the premiums have gone up.
"First of all, everybody keeps hearing about the rate increases, but the discounts have increased," Lourie says.
Lourie says that about 10 percent of South Carolinians who don't fall into the poverty level for a subsidy or discount could see the rise. After Dec. 15, the penalty for anyone not insured is $700, or 2.5 percent of your income.
"Set that aside. The biggest risk in not having health insurance is if you get hurt if you have a catastrophic illness that puts you in the hospital for a long time or has you going back and forth from the doctor, you will end up with a financial liability that can follow you around for the rest of your life," Lourie says.
"You know, any premium is cheaper than if you had an accident or if you had to go to the emergency room or if you had surgery and were uninsured," Pruitt says.