Democrats have filed a bill that would open up the state’s health plan to small businesses in South Carolina.
They say the state’s plan costs about $500 less per year for the average South Carolina family than most private plans. Sen. Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) said, if the program is good enough for politicians, it’s good enough for citizens.
This is the health plan that Governor (Nikki) Haley’s on. All of the members of the General Assembly are on it. I’m on the health plan. I think it’s a wonderful plan. What we know is about 800,000 people in South Carolina do not have insurance.
The legislation would provide access to the health plan for private-sector companies with fewer than 25 employees. Hutto said the program has already expanded beyond state agencies.
We have allowed other groups over the years to go in the state health plan. On a one-by-one basis, the would come to us… and we would pass a law that says we will let you go onto the state health plan.
Those groups added to the plan include state-run utility Santee-Cooper.
Health insurance plans are usually offered to companies in bundles, with the price of private-sector premiums going down as the employee pool gets larger. For small companies with few employees, insurance costs are usually too expensive to afford. The bill tries to address the problem by clustering the small companies together as one group.
South Carolina may be treading new ground among states by creating an “association plan” for non-government employees. Hutto said he wants a subcommittee to determine if the plan is legal and viable. The businesses would be in a separate pool from the government employees.
The plan would not cost taxpayers any money, as it would be covered through employee premiums. Republicans said they wanted a chance to look over the bill before commenting on it.