State Exchange Profiles: South Carolina

South Carolina

Final update made on December 10, 2012 (no further updates will be made)

Establishing the Exchange

On November 15, 2012, Governor Nikki Haley (R) informed federal officials South Carolina would default to a federally-operated health insurance exchange.1 This decision was largely based on findings from the South Carolina Health Planning Committee which had concluded the state cannot implement a state-based exchange as required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and should instead encourage the establishment of private exchanges.2 The Governor created the Committee via Executive Order to assist with policy recommendations regarding whether and how South Carolina should establish a health insurance exchange; however, her influence over the Committee’s findings was called into question in December 2011.3,4

Prior to the announcement that the state would not operate its own exchange, the Governor signed into law S 0102, a bill prohibiting plans in a state exchange from offering abortion coverage, except in cases of rape, incest, or to avert the death of a pregnant woman.5

Essential Health Benefits (EHB): The ACA requires that all non-grandfathered individual and small-group plans sold in a state, including those offered through the Exchange, cover certain defined health benefits. Since South Carolina has not put forward a recommendation, the state’s benchmark EHB plan will default to the largest small-group plan in the state, Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina- Business Blue Complete, PPO.

Exchange Funding

In September 2011, the South Carolina Department of Insurance received a federal Exchange Planning grant of $1 million. Governor Haley stated South Carolina would not pursue any more federal grant money to fund a possible state-run exchange.6

Next Steps

The federal government will assume full responsibility for running a health insurance exchange in South Carolina in 2014.


1. Letter from Governor Haley toHHS. November 15, 2012.
2. “Improving the Health Care Marketplace in South Carolina: Strategies and Policies Recommended by the South Carolina Health Planning Committee.” November 2011.
3. Executive Order 2011-09:
4.  ‘Harkin Blasts South Carolina Over Exchange’. December 23, 2011. Kaiser Health News.
5. S 0102. 2012 Legislative session. Signed June 7, 2012.
6. Largen, Stephen. ‘Haley to shun federal funds.’ Go Upstate. July 1, 2011.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270 | Email Alerts: | |

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.