Deadline to sign up for health insurance ticks near

Healthcare deadlines

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - March 31 is the deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act to avoid a penalty.

The penalty results in a fee of $95 paid in taxes to the government or one percent of earned income; whichever is higher. The penalty will continue to go up every year. In 2016, it will increase to 2.5% of earned income.

So for example, an annual income of $100,000, in 2014, results in a $1,000 fine and in 2016, a $2,500 fine will be required.

For months now, enrollment counselors with various health companies have been working to get people signed up. Counselors say most folks had questions about costs, coverage and many simply had a fear of the unknown.

About 16 percent of the population in South Carolina does not have insurance.

Local health experts say enrolling is worth it, considering the costs for health services without insurance. In 2013, at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center, 35,000 people without insurance utilized the hospital at cost of $32 million.

"People that have health insurance tend to go to the doctors more, they are probably quicker to come to the ER when they have certain illnesses, and often folks without health insurance can be embarrassed, and so they won't go to a doctor and do preventative things," says CFO of Grand Strand Regional Medical Center Robert Grace.

To access the Affordable Care Act web site immediately, click this link:

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