Seeking to build awareness of the federal Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace, three local hospitals plan outreach events to educate and assist uninsured residents get coverage.
Coastal Carolina Hospital and Hilton Head Hospital launched their "Path to Health" campaign last week, according to a news release. It's part of a national program crinsurainsfsfsinsurancefsfsfeated by the owner of the two hospitals, Tenet Corp., to educate the uninsured about the Affordable Care Act.
Beaufort Memorial Hospital announced its own outreach program in a news release Friday. The hospital will begin offering scheduled appointments and walk-in assistance at the Beaufort Memorial Medical & Administrative Center on Ribaut Road across from the main hospital starting Dec. 3, the release said.
Coastal Carolina and Hilton Head hospitals will work with other community organizations, including Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services, to spread information, the release said.
Comprehensive Health Services, which has also worked to help sign up uninsured residents for health insurance, will station some of its certified counselors in the hospitals' lobbies on the days of their events, according to Gaynelle Dantzler, the agency's administrative director of reimbursement services. Dantzler said other events with the hospitals are also planned.
Beaufort Memorial Hospital will also have certified assistance counselors available, as 16 hospital staff members completed federal training, the release said. The counselors will be available three days a week -- Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays -- for appointments and will also be available over the phone, according to the release.
Although the program's launch was announced Nov. 18, Coastal Carolina Hospital spokeswoman Carolyn Grant said the program unofficially started the previous week. Grant said hospital staff was on hand at a health fair in Ridgeland, handing out informational brochures about the Affordable Care Act. Grant said the local campaign was in the works before the health insurance marketplace opened Oct. 1.
The announcement of the campaigns came less than a week after U.S. Department of Health and Human Services statistics revealed only 572 South Carolinians were able to complete the health insurance process from start to finish in October, although application numbers were much higher. In October, 11,249 applications to access and browse the marketplace had been completed, according to the statistics.
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.