Senior Medicare Advantage plan insurance in Goose Creek, SC

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Helping Seniors Make Better-Informed Medicare Decisions

Trying to pick a health insurance plan can be a chore for anyone. For many people, just mentioning the word "open enrollment" sends shivers down the spine. It seems like there's always a nagging feeling that you're wasting money, choosing a plan with poor in-network care, or both. One would think that health insurance gets easier as you approach retirement age, but the truth is that picking an initial Medicare coverage plan can be daunting.

Unfortunately, the confusing process of signing up for Medicare causes many seniors to forego healthcare coverage altogether. After all, Medicare enrollment can involve several federal agencies, including the Social Security Administration (or SSA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (or CMS).

At Senior Medicare Insurance Services, our passion is guiding seniors through the confusion of Medicare. That way, they can enjoy retirement with peace of mind knowing they are protected and ready for life after 65. We work with dozens of insurance companies, giving our clients the chance to choose a plan that best fits their lifestyle.

We choose to design our senior insurance plans with a focus on optimal benefits structure, lower costs, and personalized service. Some independent insurance agencies see their aging customers as nothing more than a financial transaction waiting to happen. In contrast, we treat each of our clients with respect and dignity as we help them navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. Combined with individualized service, we help older Americans make well-informed decisions about insurance. Whether you're in need of senior Medicare Supplement Plan insurance in Goose Creek or simply have questions about signing up for Medicare, our team is here to help.

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Medicare Goose Creek, SC

Guiding You Through The Confusion of Medicare!

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What is Medicare?

If you're approaching the golden years of your life, it's important you understand what Medicare is if you don't already.

Medicare is a federal health insurance program reserved for people older than 65 who have worked full-time for at least ten years. The Medicare program is paid for by a combination of worker payroll tax, premiums paid by Medicare enrollees, and the U.S. government.

There are four parts of Medicare:

 Senior Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance Goose Creek, SC

This type of Medicare is free for most U.S. citizens. Medicare Part A helps older adults pay for care in a nursing facility, hospital visits, and some forms of in-home senior care.

This tier costs around $100 per month. It covers different outpatient services like lab tests, preventative care, doctor's visits, mental health care, clinical trials, and some forms of surgery.

This type of Medicare is most often called Medicare Advantage. This tier of Medicare allows seniors to choose health plans provided by insurance companies like Senior Medicare Insurance Services. Individuals who use Medicare Advantage commonly use Medicare supplement plan insurance to help pay for health care costs that Original Medicare won't cover, like coinsurance, deductibles, and copayments.

Sometimes called "PDPs," these plans add drug coverage to standard Medicare, some Medicare Private Fee-for-Service Plans (PFFS), some Medicare Cost Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans (MSA).

The amount of money you pay for your health care depends on several factors, including:

At Senior Medicare Insurance Services, we offer a number of health insurance solutions for seniors. Two of our most used services include Medicare Advantage plan insurance and Medicare supplement plan insurance.

Senior Medicare Supplement Plan Insurance in Goose Creek

Sometimes called Medigap, the purpose of Medicare Supplement Insurance is to help fill in "gaps" that might not be covered by Original Medicare. You can think of a Medigap policy as a supplement for your Original Medicare benefits.

Private companies like Senior Medicare Insurance Services sell this type of insurance right here in South Carolina. While Original Medicare will pay for much of the cost associated with health care services you need, it may not cover all of your expenses. Generally, Medigap policies do not cover costs stemming from eyeglasses, private-duty nurses, dental care, hearing aids, or long-term care.

Depending on the Medicare Supplement Plan that you choose, it may cover out-of-the-country medical services when you travel abroad. Assuming you have Original Medicare coverage, your policy will cover its share of Medicare-approved health care costs. Once your Original Medicare coverage reaches its limit, your Medigap policy will pay its share of the fees.

Our Medigap policies are drafted to meet your specific needs, and can help cover remaining health care costs such as:

Deductibles

Copayments

Coinsurance

Important Information About Senior Supplement Plan Insurance

To dispel some confusion, you should know that a Medigap policy is not the same as a Medicare Advantage Plan. The latter helps you receive Medicare benefits, while the former supplements the benefits you obtain through your Original Medicare plan. As you begin to explore Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, keep the following important information in mind:

 Senior Medicare Plans Goose Creek, SC

As you begin to explore Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, keep the following important information in mind:

  • To qualify for a Medigap policy, you must first have Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.
  • Payments on your Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan will be made to the private insurance company that you choose, like Senior Medicare Insurance Services. These payments are made every month and are paid in addition to the monthly payment you make for Medicare Part B.
  • If you are the holder of a Medicare Advantage Plan, it is illegal for an insurance company to sell you a senior Medicare Supplement Policy. If you plan on switching back to an Original Medicare plan, you may be able to purchase a Medigap policy.
  • If you have health problems as you age, your standardized Medigap policy is guaranteed to be renewable. So long as you pay your monthly premium, your insurance provider cannot cancel your policy.
  • Medigap policies only cover one person. If you have a spouse or family member that would like coverage, they must purchase a separate policy.
  • You may only buy a Senior Medicare Supplement Plan from an insurance agent that is licensed to sell them in your state. Senior Medicare Insurance Services has been licensed to sell Medigap policies in South Carolina for years. We have helped countless seniors get the Medicare coverage they need and continue to do so to this day.
  • In the past, Medigap policies were able to cover costs related to prescription drugs. As of January 1st, 2006, prescription drug coverage is not available on Medicare Supplement Plans. The best way to get coverage for your prescription drugs is to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, often called Part D. Contact our office today to learn more about paying premiums on Medigap and Medicare plans.

For many people, the best time to buy senior Medicare Supplement Plan Insurance in Goose Creek is during the 7 months Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This period starts the day you turn 65 years old, so long as you hold Medical Insurance (Medicare Part B). Generally, during the enrollment period, you get more policy choices and better pricing. Once the enrollment period is over, you may not be able to purchase a Medigap policy. Contact Senior Medicare Insurance Services today to determine if you qualify for a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan.

Senior Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance in Goose Creek, SC

A Medicare Advantage Plan is a kind of Medicare health coverage designed to provide seniors with all their Part A and Part B Medicare benefits. Many Medicare Advantage Plans will often include coverage of the following:

 Medicare Plans Goose Creek, SC

In addition, most Medicare Advantage Plans give seniors coverage for their prescription drug needs. When you enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan through Senior Medicare Insurance Services, your Medicare benefits are covered through your plan and will not be paid for by traditional Medicare.

How Medicare Advantage Plans Work

Sometimes called "MA Plans" or "Part C," Medicare Advantage Plans are considered an "all in one" solution to Original Medicare. Senior Medicare Advantage Plans are only offered by private companies that are approved, like Senior Medicare Insurance Services. Seniors who enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan are still on Medicare. However, these individuals enjoy bundled plans that give seniors the benefits of hospital insurance (Medicare Part A), medical insurance (Medicare Part B), and sometimes drug coverage (Part D).

Medicare Advantage Plans are very popular because they cover all Medicare services and make life a little easier for seniors who have trouble understanding the nuances of Medicare.

When you contact Senior Medicare Insurance Services to choose your Medicare Advantage Plan, ask your agent about Medicare prescription drug coverage. Unless you already have drug coverage (Part D), you should seriously consider Part D coverage to help reduce costs associated with prescription drugs. You may also want to consider a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan to help fill gaps in coverage that Original Medicare will not cover.

 Senior Health Insurance Goose Creek, SC

Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance Rules

Medicare works by paying a set amount of money to the companies that offer senior Medicare Advantage Plan insurance in Goose Creek. That money is used to pay for the care services that you need. Because Medicare Advantage Plans are different, you should expect out-of-pocket costs to vary depending on the plan you choose.

Different plans have different rules for how you receive services, such as:

  • If you must go to facilities, suppliers, or doctors that belong to your Advantage Plan for non-urgent and non-emergency care.
  • Whether you must get a referral to see a specialized doctor
 Healthcare Goose Creek, SC

Companies that offer Medicare Advantage Plans must follow strict rules, which are set by Medicare and can change every year.

Paying for Your Senior Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance

How much you pay for your Medicare Advantage Plan varies and depends on a few different factors. In most cases, if you need a kind of medical service, you will need to rely on the doctors and providers in your plan's service area and network to pay the lowest amounts. In some cases, if you choose to use a service outside of your plan's network of coverage, you may have to pay out-of-pocket.

We encourage you to contact our office today to learn more about Medicare Advantage Plans, how they work, what your options are, and how often you will have to pay out-of-pocket, if at all.

 Burial Insurance Goose Creek, SC

The Senior Medicare Insurance Services Commitment

Since our company was founded, we have led the insurance industry by providing our clients with the most valuable, helpful insurance solutions available. We are fully committed to our current and prospective clients by:

  • Choosing to focus on personalized, one-on-one service. When you work with our team, know that we will always design your health insurance plan with your best interests in mind.
  • Listening to your specific needs.
  • Responding to all inquiries and questions promptly and with a friendly attitude.
  • Providing you with the best customer service in the senior health insurance industry, whether you have questions or are ready to move forward with a Medicare plan.
 Medicare Advantage Goose Creek, SC

Our mission is to help give seniors the best Medicare assistance available so that they may understand the Medicare process and make an informed health coverage decision. We have the knowledge, skills, and experience to assist anyone interested in Medicare. Our personal goal is to become a lifetime resource for our clients and give them greater confidence in choosing their insurance plans.

Latest News in Goose Creek, SC

Goose Creek residents concerned about dust emissions from nearby aluminum smelter

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCBD) – Several Goose Creek residents say they are concerned about a powder-like substance that has appeared on vehicles and outdoor furniture over the past several days.One neighbor who lives in the Persimmon Hill community described the substance as being sandy, gritty, and dust-like being emitted and traveling by air.“Is it toxic, harmful to breathe for human and animals? What about our water?” the resident asked.The white dusty emissions appear to be coming from the nearb...

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCBD) – Several Goose Creek residents say they are concerned about a powder-like substance that has appeared on vehicles and outdoor furniture over the past several days.

One neighbor who lives in the Persimmon Hill community described the substance as being sandy, gritty, and dust-like being emitted and traveling by air.

“Is it toxic, harmful to breathe for human and animals? What about our water?” the resident asked.

The white dusty emissions appear to be coming from the nearby Century Aluminum plant.

Goose Creek Mayor Greg Habib said in a message to residents that he and State Representative Brandon Cox met with leadership at the plant on Monday to get a better picture of what the dust may be, why it is leaving the plant, and when the problem should be solved.

“The white dust is Alumina dust, which is produced during the smelting process. Alumina dust is not supposed to leave the plant. In fact, the retention of Alumina is an important part of the plant’s ability to make more aluminum,” Mayor Habib explained.

Century Aluminum believes the emissions are connected to an “unusual failure” in the plant’s baghouse. Mayor Habib explained that exhaust from the manufacturing process runs through a scrubber to clean the air, and the Alumina dust is collected into the bags in the baghouse.

The dust is then taken and reintroduced into the manufacturing process to make aluminum.

But while Century Aluminum is not certain of the failure, Mayor Habib said the plant is looking at two possibilities.

First, the mayor said there was a change in suppliers for the filter being used in the baghouse. “Century knows that on three occasions a very small portion of the bags failed. They are currently investigating another batch of bags that will be replaced as a warranty issue,” he said.

The second possibility could be connected to recent “episodes of high pressure” in the baghouse. “Century believes these episodes combined with the failing bags are resulting in the emission problems over the past several months,” said Mayor Habib.

Mayor Habib said Century Aluminum reported the issues to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and is working with the state health agency and technical experts in the field to solve the problems.

“DHEC has two toxicologists in their Charleston office who are familiar with Century Aluminum and aluminum oxide. They have employed three full-time employees in the bag house to identify problems, and they keep a contractor onsite 24 hours a day to address any further issues that may occur. They are soon going to be able to return to their original bag supplier. Finally, they have recruited technical consultants to help them identify the pressure problem,” said Mayor Habib.

Mayor Habib said Century Aluminum has assured his office that they are working diligently to address the emission issues. “I am confident that Century Aluminum has been transparent with me and DHEC. We are hopeful they will have a resolution soon, and we expect to receive an update from DHEC,” he said.

He said that during the 40 years in which the aluminum smelter has operated in the Goose Creek community, there has not been another issue related to emissions from the plant.

Mayor Habib said that he has requested a town hall event with Century Aluminum and DHEC to address the emissions issue and related health risks.

DHEC later told News 2 that its staff is investigating and has both been at the facility and in the community to gather information. “We are working closely with the facility to develop an immediate corrective action plan,” the agency said.

According to DHEC, alumina dust is not considered a hazardous substance. “The particle size of the dust being seen in the community is large and therefore too big to enter human lungs; however, it can still irritate your skin, eyes, and nose, and can be a respiratory irritant after prolonged exposure.”

The state health agency is deploying portable air sensors to measure any smaller, breathable particulate matter, called “fine particulate matter” (or PM2.5) in the area.

Community members can access the real-time data by clicking the links below. DHEC staff is in the process of setting up the sensors.

DHEC says data will represent all particulate matter (PM) in the area, not just the PM from a single source or single facility. “There can be many different sources of PM emissions within an area. The data from these sensors will help us identify any air quality trends in the community,” health officials said.

DHEC previously recommended that anyone with any type of environmental concern fill out an online form and contact the local environmental affairs office.

News 2 also reached out to Century Aluminum. We are waiting to hear back.

‘Alumina dust’ plant emissions concern Goose Creek community

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is now investigating complaints about a white dust produced by an aluminum plant that has caused complaints and worries for Goose Creek residents.Alumina dust is a gritty substance people who live near the Mount Holly Century Aluminum Plant say coats vehicles, plants, mailboxes and anything else outside in areas across Goose Creek. It is produced during the smelting process but is not supposed to leave the plant, a problem DHEC is now looking i...

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is now investigating complaints about a white dust produced by an aluminum plant that has caused complaints and worries for Goose Creek residents.

Alumina dust is a gritty substance people who live near the Mount Holly Century Aluminum Plant say coats vehicles, plants, mailboxes and anything else outside in areas across Goose Creek. It is produced during the smelting process but is not supposed to leave the plant, a problem DHEC is now looking into.

The Mount Holly aluminum smelter has been operating for more than 40 years. But some neighbors say it is recent emissions from the plant that they’re not getting answers about, making them worry about their health.

“It looks like someone has taken baby powder and just shook it all over the cars,” Jackie Davis Pfister, who lives in Goose Creek, says. “It’s gritty. It’s baking into our cars.”

Davis Pfister says this entire process has just been a nightmare and says she’s not the only one who is frustrated. There are multiple posts on Facebook that have garnered hundreds of comments about the same thing.

“It needs to be more addressed than it has been,” Goose Creek resident Marilyn Leegette says. “I wish DHEC would send out some kind of hazard report so people can make themselves educated about what this can do to them.”

DHEC confirmed agents have been to the facility and in the community to gather information as part of their investigation. They say they are working closely with the facility to develop an immediate corrective action plan.

Jonathan Brown, Century Aluminum’s Environmental, Health, and Safety Manager, confirmed that Century believes the emissions may be caused by an unusual failure in the plant’s baghouse. The plant is not 100% sure of the reason for the failure, but are looking at two potential possibilities. One is that a recent change of suppliers for the filters in the baghouse took place, and Century knows that on three occasions a very small portion of the bags failed. The second possibility is recent episodes of high pressure in the bag house.

Brown says Century is working diligently to address these emission issues.

On Monday, Century confirmed they had four “events.” One happened on Sept. 3, two on Sept. 16 and another on Sept. 30. Century says the issue will be fixed by Oct. 17.

But those in the community are worried about their health with some people reporting problems like rashes and difficulty breathing.

“It’s very concerning for me,” Leegette says. “I believe honestly that if there are short-term effects that are showing, there has got to be long-term effects as well.”

“If we could just know what type of air we’re breathing: Is it dangerous to us? I think we just want to know the answer,” Davis Pfister says.

DHEC says alumina dust is not considered a hazardous substance. The particle size of the dust being seen in the community is large and therefore too big to enter human lungs; however, it can still irritate skin, eyes, and the nose, and can be a respiratory irritant after prolonged exposure.

DHEC has also deployed portable air sensors in the area to measure any smaller, breathable particulate matter, called “fine particulate matter.”

DHEC says it’s important to know that the data will represent all particulate matter in the area, not just from a single source or single facility. There can be many different sources of particulate matter emissions within an area. The data from these sensors will help the agency identify any air quality trends in the community.

After an inquiry into the issue, the city of Goose Creek set up a town hall meeting with Century Aluminum and DHEC representatives for Monday at 6 p.m. at City Hall. Mayor Greg Habib will moderate this discussion, which will include questions from attendees. Experts in toxicology, air quality and public health from DHEC will join Century Aluminum leaders who will discuss the issue of excess emissions at the plant, and the plan to fix this problem.

Century says they have set up a website where residents should report their personal situation. They can also call a hotline number at 312-696-3131.

Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Goose Creek residents grapple with alumina dust from local aluminum plant

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) — It's alumnia dust, and it's becoming a nuisance in Goose Creek.People who live near the Century Aluminum Plant say the particles are covering cars and raising concerns over possible health issues."You can actually pick up piles of it, and that's probably not a good thing," Nat Miranda said.Goose Creek residents grapple with alumina dust from local aluminum plant (WCIV)Read more: ...

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) — It's alumnia dust, and it's becoming a nuisance in Goose Creek.

People who live near the Century Aluminum Plant say the particles are covering cars and raising concerns over possible health issues.

"You can actually pick up piles of it, and that's probably not a good thing," Nat Miranda said.

Goose Creek residents grapple with alumina dust from local aluminum plant (WCIV)

Read more: White dust emitted into Goose Creek from Century Aluminum plant; officials respond.

Miranda said this dust covering his car had been a problem for weeks.

"I mean, they've been a great neighbor for years now," Miranda said. "They need to take some steps to address it and make sure that we feel comfortable with them around still."

Goose Creek Mayor Greg Habib said he's been in contact with the plant. He explained the problem is with the Century's baghouse. And DHEC tells him the dust isn't a health issue.

"DHEC does not see this as a public health issue," Habib said. "There's a big difference between exposure and chronic exposure. Chronic exposure is constant exposure over a long period of time, and no one is experiencing that at this point."

Mayor Habib said he's been in contact with state leaders discussing the issue.

"The governor's office reported back to me what they learned," he said. "DHEC is in the area today and tomorrow with air quality testing measures to measure and see what exactly what the air quality issues are."

Read more: Attorney General Alan Wilson announces 26th Annual Silent Witness Ceremony.

As for a timeline to get the issue fixed, it won't take more than a few weeks.

"Now as they have gained more information over the last couple of days, they feel like they have a solution that hopefully won't take more than a week or two," he said. "I know that they are working diligently to get it fixed as fast as they can."

In the meantime, both parties said they want to see transparency.

"They told the regulators when it happened," Miranda said. "What about telling the community? I mean, obviously, it's something that we can see, so how about you say, Hey, we had a problem."

READ THE COMMENTS (2)

Habib added: "People wanna see transparency. and we continue to work to get that. I think that we have to figure out as a, as a governmental agency, d e C and us and Century Aluminum as a corporate entity, um, to communicate maybe a little bit faster than we have, um, about what the issues are."

Is Goose Creek's alumina dust issue getting resolved? Century Aluminum explains

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) — People who live in Goose Creek have been complaining for weeks about a white powder-like substance in the air- identified as alumina dust.They said it’s been covering their cars and homes, and even making it hard to breathe.Monday night, Goose Creek residents heard from health and environmental experts for the first time about the issue, and their plan to fix it.Century Aluminum addresses alumina dust concerns in Goose Creek: Promises resolution in 10 days. Community town hall held ...

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) — People who live in Goose Creek have been complaining for weeks about a white powder-like substance in the air- identified as alumina dust.

They said it’s been covering their cars and homes, and even making it hard to breathe.

Monday night, Goose Creek residents heard from health and environmental experts for the first time about the issue, and their plan to fix it.

Century Aluminum addresses alumina dust concerns in Goose Creek: Promises resolution in 10 days. Community town hall held Oct. 9, 2023. (WCIV)

They were also able to ask representatives from Century Aluminum and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) questions

Some told News 4 before the meeting started they were just looking for transparency.

“First, we’re sorry. I understand your concerns and frustrations, but we also appreciate your patience. We will fix this issue,” said Dennis Harbath, the plant manager at Century Aluminum.

Century Aluminum said the release of alumina dust in Goose Creek first happened because of accelerated bag failures. They said they’re replacing the failed bags and expect their action plan to take 10 days to solve the problem.

Read More: White dust emitted into Goose Creek from Century Aluminum plant; officials respond

But people who live in the area are still concerned.

“I’m exhausted all the time, I get headaches, you know, my eyes burn. It’s just been a total nightmare,” said Jackie Davis Pfister.

Pfister lives in Goose Creek, and people like her who have preexisting conditions like asthma are worried about long-term effects.

“Before I never really had to use my inhaler except for when I was sick or overexerted myself, that was the only time I used it, but now it’s just a regular basis, three to five times [per day],” she said.

Read More: Goose Creek residents grapple with alumina dust from local aluminum plant

DHEC said there is a certain type of aluminum oxide particles they’re keeping their eye on.

“What we were most concerned about is actually the smaller particles that you could actually breathe in and actually get into your lungs. So, for that reason we did put out some air sensors,” said Rhonda Thompson, the Bureau of Air Quality chief for DHEC.

But she said the readings from their sensors have been very low so far.

Other questions came from the crowd: Why didn’t the plant shut down when the leak first happened? And, how will aluminum oxide affect animals, and not just people?

Read More: DHEC confirms 2023 season's first flu-related death in SC

But Monday’s experts said they couldn’t answer some of those questions, leaving many frustrated.

Statistics from the DHEC air sensors and the area’s current air quality can be found on DHEC's website.

People can also go to mthollyupdates.com for more information from Century Aluminum, including how the plant is working to solve this issue.

Goose Creek popular with those looking to relocate

South Carolina’s population growth continues to climb. Numbers on who is coming and where they are moving are compiled from numerous sources. One source that can offer some unique insight is a moving company.According to the company’s one-way truck rental numbers, U-Haul has some data showing South Carolina is the 4th ranked state for growth in the country.“Every year, we receive data sets for all one-way customer transactions. These are going to include truck moves and one-way trailer moves,” said Jeff ...

South Carolina’s population growth continues to climb. Numbers on who is coming and where they are moving are compiled from numerous sources. One source that can offer some unique insight is a moving company.

According to the company’s one-way truck rental numbers, U-Haul has some data showing South Carolina is the 4th ranked state for growth in the country.

“Every year, we receive data sets for all one-way customer transactions. These are going to include truck moves and one-way trailer moves,” said Jeff Lockridge, manager of media and public relations for U-Haul. “We receive those data sets divided into states and cities, and those two categories are broken down so we can look at every market where we have a U-Haul facility and see the incoming and outgoing traffic from those markets.”

U-Haul reports its migration trends data, compiled from more than 2.5 million one-way U-Haul customer transactions annually across the U.S. and Canada.

“South Carolina has been right at the top of our growth state rankings for several years,” he said.

The company shows Charleston-North Charleston and Myrtle Beach are the usual hot spots, and now Goose Creek and Summerville are also specifically named in the data.

According to the U-Haul rental spot at Duncan’s Hardware in Goose Creek, business is good. Manager Henry Thorne said this past spring, the location was in the top 100 in the county and is third in his district in the Southeast region.

“We see people coming from all over the place, California, Texas, Ohio,” Thorne said. He also added the military base doesn’t hurt business, either.

“We’ve got the naval base up the street,” he said. “That is where we get many of our one-ways coming in and going out.”

According to information from U-Haul, while the migration trends do not correlate directly to population or economic growth, the index is a good gauge of how well states and cities attract and maintain residents. The company reports the top five states for those relocating this year are Texas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

“Certainly into the 2020s since the pandemic, South Carolina has been a hotbed for people moving from the Northeast along the East Coast and even up from Florida,” Longridge said. “Very much just a positive net gain market for us each year. We see a lot more incoming than outgoing.”

The holiday season has wrapped up for food pantries, and after 35 years, Helping Hands of Goose Creek made it through by feeding hundreds in December and giving food to 30 families a day the week before Christmas, ending a record-breaking year.

In 2022, the food pantry and assistance center at 104 Commerce Place reported it logged more than 4,000 volunteer hours and distributed 232,350 pounds of food. In 2023, the numbers are higher.

“We served more families in 2023 than we ever had in the history of Helping Hands,” said Niccole Franklin, the new executive director at Helping Hands of Goose Creek.

Unemployment is low in the area. The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce reports the unemployment rate in Berkeley County at 2.5%. While elected leaders tout a business-friendly approach to bringing in jobs, the template only works for some families.

“The biggest eye-opener right now is the family unit we call the ALICE family, the asset-limited, income-constrained and employed,” Franklin said. “They work but don’t make enough money to make ends meet and don’t qualify for assistance because they work. We’re seeing families who are barely keeping their heads above water.”

Franklin said one spouse may have one full-time job, and the other in the home will have one or two part-time jobs.

“They have kids. They have daycare,” she said. “They have life.”

With housing and the cost of food and travel, local life has become much more expensive. Helping Hands is now heading into the lean months regarding donations.

“We rely on the schools, the churches, and the community doing the drives at Christmas and Thanksgiving so that we can make it through January, February, and March,” Franklin said.

This past year, the South Carolina State Legislature started the Food Security Council, now guided by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and other state agencies. According to the DHEC, its purpose is to examine state agency programs addressing food insecurity in the state and identify gaps in services for the more vulnerable populations.

DHEC Director Dr. Edward Simmer wants his agency to find new and creative ways to bring people and good together. They have been meeting since September, and the council, according to Simmer, will have a report ready for lawmakers in late January. The state is not doing well regarding the two levels of food security.

“There is what is called low food security, where you have food but it’s not very good quality because you don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and about 15% of South Carolinians have that level of food insecurity,” Simmer said. “Then there is very low food security, where people are going to bed hungry and don’t have enough to eat. We are the worst state in the nation for people who are actually hungry, who have very low food security, and we are the fifth-worst overall when you include both levels.”

It seems there is nowhere to go but up in the effort, but Simmer admits there is a lot of work to get people enough to eat and enough healthy food. It’s either feast or famine in specific communities. Some have an hour’s drive to the nearest grocery store, and others have a half-dozen within two miles.

“The legislature asked us to do this report, and I hope they will take this and some action,” Simmer said. “I think the other thing, though, is bringing more attention to this problem and making people aware of the already available resources. I hope in a year or two we have better programs and better coordination among programs.”

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