Wednesday was the first day that North and South Carolinians could buy 2018 health insurance plans through the marketplace. The open enrollment period lasts through mid-December.
Consumers have a smaller window to sign up for coverage this year. The open enrollment period is six weeks. That's less than half the length it was in previous years. There are two insurers selling plans to North Carolinians, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and Cigna Health Insurance which only serves five counties in the Raleigh area. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina raised premiums an average of 14 percent this year. And Cigna raised premiums almost 25 percent on average.
In South Carolina there is only one insurer selling plans on the marketplace. Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina says the most premiums will go up is 31 percent. Insurers attribute those increases to the federal government’s decision to stop subsidies that allow them to offer discounts to low income customers. That change will disproportionately impact consumers who make too much money to qualify for another form of financial help, the tax credit.