The Palmetto Project has become South Carolina’s first non-profit insurance agency, allowing it to be less restricted and more entrepreneurial in sustaining the state’s current historically high rates of health coverage. More than 200,000 South Carolinians each year have obtained private health coverage through the ACA’s Federal Health Insurance Marketplace.
According to Steve Skardon, the organization’s Executive Director, the group informed the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in August that it would not be continuing as a Federal grantee as it has for the past four years.
“We will keep doing the same work, but provide a buffer between South Carolina and the political bickering in Washington. The politics makes it difficult to provide the best possible service to South Carolinians,” he said, “Our counterparts in states like Georgia and Ohio terminated their contracts last fall out of frustration with the way the Federal government was undercutting the program.”
According to Shelli Quenga, the organization’s Director of Programs and manager of its new Insure SC initiative, “This new approach allows us to assist any South Carolinian in finding the most affordable and appropriate options for health care. We’re excited to expand our services to include not only ACA policies, but Medicaid, Medicare, and off-Marketplace plans too.”
She noted that the organization can now assist consumers over the phone and online. “We’re one of only two non-profit agencies in the country and we already have other former Navigator programs reaching out to replicate our model. It’s a social impact initiative – revenues generated pay flat salaries and support our other community initiatives,” she explained.
Quenga noted that the Palmetto Project will be serving mostly existing consumers from the past five years. The organization has been licensed as an insurance agency by the S.C. Department of Insurance, while its staff members have been fully licensed as agents. “Our work complements that of our for-profit partners by putting resources toward more complex and time-consuming health insurance issues.”
Consumers can get more information or schedule an appointment with a resource specialist in their community by calling Insure SC toll-free 1-888-998-4646 or visiting www.insure-SC.org.