Senior Medicare Advantage plan insurance in Myrtle Beach, 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 Care 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 cityname or simply have questions about signing up for Medicare, our team is here to help.

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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:

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 Care 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 Care 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 Myrtle Beach

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 Care Insurance Solutions 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:

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 Care 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 will 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 agency that is licensed to sell them in your state. Senior Care Insurance Solutions 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 cityname is during the six-month 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 Care Insurance Solutions today to determine if you qualify for a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan.

Senior Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance in Myrtle Beach, 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:

In addition, most Medicare Advantage Plans give seniors coverage for their prescription drug needs. When you enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan through Senior Care 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 Care 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 Care Insurance Solutions 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.

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 cityname. 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

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.

The Senior Care 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.

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 Myrtle Beach

Snow? Ice? Frozen roads? How Horry County is preparing for winter weather this weekend

One of the biggest winter storms in years is on its way to Myrtle Beach, a place that isn’t used to, well, winter storms.Winter storm effects will start Friday morning. The storm has the potential to bring sleet, freezing rain, ice accumulation and (maybe) some snow, according to the National Weather Service.“The main threat at this time is the potential for dangerous ice accumulations, which could cause downed trees/limbs, power outages and hazardous travel,” the NWS said in a written briefing Wednesday eveni...

One of the biggest winter storms in years is on its way to Myrtle Beach, a place that isn’t used to, well, winter storms.

Winter storm effects will start Friday morning. The storm has the potential to bring sleet, freezing rain, ice accumulation and (maybe) some snow, according to the National Weather Service.

“The main threat at this time is the potential for dangerous ice accumulations, which could cause downed trees/limbs, power outages and hazardous travel,” the NWS said in a written briefing Wednesday evening.

The areas closest to the coast are expected to see 0.01-0.1 inches of ice and inland areas could see 0.25-0.5 inches of ice. However, even small amounts of ice can be dangerous, the NWS warns.

“Even a quarter inch of ice can add a tremendous amount of weight to trees and powerlines,” the NWS said in the briefing.

There is little chance of snow from the storm in Horry County. The county is likely to see wind gusts of 25-30 mph, especially along the coast. The NWS said those gusts could add stress to trees and powerlines already weighed down by ice.

“Santee Cooper is monitoring the forecast and preparing for another round of winter weather. Our main goals include being prepared, keeping our crews and customers safe, and keeping the lights on for all of our customers across the state,” Santee Cooper’s chief customer officer Mike Poston said in a press release Wednesday. “We will begin restoration efforts as soon as we safely can if we experience outages from this winter weather.”

Residents can report outages online at stormcenter.santeecooper.com or by calling 888-769-7688.

Wintry precipitation is expected to stop by the end of the day Saturday.

It will stay chilly after the storm, with morning lows in the 20s Saturday through Monday. Saturday’s high will be in the mid-30s and in the mid to upper 40s on Sunday and Monday.

Need to head somewhere in the next few days? Here are some tips from South Carolina Highway Patrol.

The state Department of Transportation has plenty of methods for taking care of South Carolina’s roads. Ahead of and during the storm, the agency will be out prepping roads and de-icing them.

Horry County Public Works also has equipment to “remove and mitigate the effects of snow/ice should the need arise,” county emergency management spokesman Thomas Bell said in an email last year. The county also works with the Red Cross to offer shelters to residents who don’t have a warm place to stay if it gets to cold at night, Bell said in an email. If your home loses power or heat for more than a few hours, residents can text SHELTER and their zip code to 43362 to find the nearest shelter to them.

As for driving, it’s still a good idea to avoid the roads if you can, Highway Patrol Master Trooper Brian Jones said.

And yes, Jones has heard it before: You grew up driving in snow! You’re a pro at this.

Snow is very different than ice. South Carolina’s warmer climate means we more often get ice, which creates slick and incredibly dangerous roads compared to the gritty snow-covered streets (that still provide good traction) drivers from, well, places with snow might be used to, Jones said.

“Whenever we see accumulation then freezing overnight, ice forms. It makes for a dangerous driving experience,” Jones said. “So whenever we see a winter weather event, we see our call volume increase drastically. We respond to a lot more collisions than we ordinarily would. So our message there is if you don’t have to be out on the roadways, save yourself the trouble to stay home.”

Keep in mind that there is also a chance that any accumulated water on the ground can also refreeze during the evening, especially on Saturday night, when it will be the coldest. That will create dangerous road conditions Saturday night and into Sunday morning until all of the precipitation melts and drains away in the coming days.

For those who have to drive, keep an eye out for people working on de-icing the roads. The Department of Transportation has loads of resources for helping melt ice on roads and keeping them from freezing. This week, they’ll be out in full force working to keep the state’s roads safe. Slow down to make sure they can do their work safely. Keep in mind that salt trucks and snow plows tend to move pretty slowly, so they can cover the entire roadway.

“The safest solution is for drivers to stay off the roads if at all possible. If you must drive, slow down and watch for crews performing de-icing and plowing operations,” Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall said in a statement.

Myrtle Beach area weather update: Forecasters expect ice to melt before refreezing Saturday

Horry County woke up to ice and freezing temperatures Saturday morning.Temperatures across the county are expected to warm up after noon, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington. The high for the Conway and Myrtle Beach areas is expected to reach near 40.“Hopefully we get a little bit of melting this afternoon,” said Reid Hawkins, science and operations officer at the NWS in Wilmington.However, while the rain might be away, as the temperatures dip below freezing again Saturday into Sunday, any...

Horry County woke up to ice and freezing temperatures Saturday morning.

Temperatures across the county are expected to warm up after noon, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington. The high for the Conway and Myrtle Beach areas is expected to reach near 40.

“Hopefully we get a little bit of melting this afternoon,” said Reid Hawkins, science and operations officer at the NWS in Wilmington.

However, while the rain might be away, as the temperatures dip below freezing again Saturday into Sunday, any ice that has melted could potentially refreeze.

“Any water that’s standing could refreeze so any of the roads that aren’t cleared by the evening could refreeze,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said Sunday is when all the ice should melt away.

“We have highs in the mid 40s for Sunday, but I think by Sunday we should be OK,” Hawkins said.

The NWS is forecasting 46 degrees as the high Sunday with the low dipping below freezing near 25 degrees. However, forecasters predict Monday’s high temperatures to get above 50 degrees and the low to be above the freezing mark for the first time in several days.

Hawkins said the average temperature in Myrtle Beach this time of year is 57, with lows above the freezing mark, though the area does experience cold snaps from time to time.

“We go through these little periods where it’s warm in December and we’re getting a big trough over the East Coast bringing a little colder weather and that’ll be around for a few weeks,” Hawkins said.

Despite temperatures warming up over the next 24 to 36 hours, Hawkins still urges motorists to be cautious through Saturday and into Sunday.

“Stay off the roads until the county and Department of Transportation can clear some of the roads and get out on the roads when they become passable,” Hawkins said. “Just be very careful this evening and overnight with those slick spots out there.”

Currently there are no road closures across the county, according to the county government’s website. South Carolina Department of Transportation’s road maps are also showing clear paths across all major roadways in Horry County.

How much Myrtle Beach golf rounds increased in 2021 and why there’s excitement for 2022

The coronavirus pandemic continued to be a boon for golf in 2021, and the Myrtle Beach market was a beneficiary of the game’s resurgence, particularly from the summer on.Propelled by perhaps the best second half to a year in two decades, the number of rounds played on the Grand Strand’s public courses increased approximately 19 percent compared to 2020, leading to a green fee revenue increase of approximately 46 percent.It is believed to be the most rounds played in at least 18 years in the market, which stretches f...

The coronavirus pandemic continued to be a boon for golf in 2021, and the Myrtle Beach market was a beneficiary of the game’s resurgence, particularly from the summer on.

Propelled by perhaps the best second half to a year in two decades, the number of rounds played on the Grand Strand’s public courses increased approximately 19 percent compared to 2020, leading to a green fee revenue increase of approximately 46 percent.

It is believed to be the most rounds played in at least 18 years in the market, which stretches from Georgetown, S.C., to Boliva, N.C., and more than 30 courses have closed over those years. The numbers break down to an average of approximately 38,300 rounds per course last year.

With advanced tee time bookings well ahead of last year, course operators are optimistic for an even more successful year in 2022.

The numbers are according to rounds played on the 62 Grand Strand courses that are currently members of the Golf Tourism Solutions technology and marketing agency that promotes the market, which is one of the world’s premier golf destinations with more than 80 courses, including more than 70 public layouts.

Rounds and revenue also increased significantly in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

“The courses need it, we all need it. It’s been a lot of tough years,” said Parker Smith, president of Golf Trek, one of the Grand Strand’s largest golf package providers.

Because the numbers take into account only current GTS courses, they do not include rounds at courses that closed in 2021 or dropped their GTS membership.

Farmstead Golf Links and The Witch Golf Links both closed late in 2021. Century Golf Partners’ five courses in the market — three at Legends Resort, Heritage Club and Oyster Bay Golf Links — Whispering Pines, Brunswick Plantation, Indigo Creek, Beachwood Golf Club and Carolina National are no longer part of GTS.

There were 2.374 million rounds played on those 62 courses in 2021, according to GTS, which was up from 1.993 million in 2020 and 2.128 million in 2019.

Revenue from the rounds increased from $71.7 million in 2020 to $104.3 million in 2021.

2021 got off to a moderate start.

A COVID surge and travel-related government restrictions contributed to play and revenue being either down or only minimally up in February, March, April and May 2021 compared to those months in 2019.

But rounds and revenue increased double-digit percentage points in each of the last eight months of 2021 compared to both 2020 and 2019, with the lone exception being a 7 percent rounds increase in November 2021 compared to 2020.

“I wouldn’t call last year a good year, because the pandemic was still greatly impacting us during our peak season, which was the spring,” said Claude Pardue, president of DG Golf Management, which owns and operates The Wizard and Man O’War courses and previously owned The Witch. “But I would call the last seven months of the year really good. We had a really good fall.”

COVID led to golf nationally enjoying a resurgence after a couple stagnant/declining decades, and rounds in the Myrtle Beach market in 2020 outpaced those in 2019 in six of the final seven months of the year.

Many states, including North Carolina and South Carolina, kept golf courses open while many other indoor activities were closed due to the coronavirus, leading more people to golf courses more frequently.

Yet rounds on the Grand Strand were down 7.8 percent and revenue was down 20 percent for the entire year in 2020 compared to 2019, according to GTS, because of the loss of traveling golfers and package play, particularly in the normally lucrative spring season when many states were on lockdown due to COVID’s emergence.

“Coming out of COVID it was crazy. Golf has been nuts,” Smith said. “I think in the 2021 spring the market missed a little bit with people still being COVID fearful. Typically, April for the 17 years I’ve been doing it is always the busiest month of traveling package golf, and we actually had more golfers play on a package basis in October for the first time ever. People were just ready to get out. It was a really, really good fall.”

Through November, total rounds of golf in the U.S. were up 5.6% over 2020, according to a report by Golf Datatech in partnership with the National Golf Foundation, and that is after rounds played in the U.S. were up nearly 14 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.

Play in 2021 was projected through November to surpass 2020’s total by approximately 20 million to 25 million rounds, and this past December saw mild temperatures in many parts of the country, particularly the mid-Atlantic.

The 2020 increase came in spite of debilitating COVID impacts that spring. The industry lost an estimated 20 million rounds due to coronavirus-related course shutdowns in March and April, when more than half of the 16,000-plus courses in the country were temporarily closed, according to the NGF.

Rounds increased in 2020 compared to 2019 in each of the final eight months of the year, according to Golf Datatech, to total more than 502 million rounds for the year for an increase of 61 million rounds over 2019.

The only larger increase in rounds played in a year on record was in 1997, when a 21-year-old Tiger Woods won the Masters by 12 strokes and the number of rounds jumped by 63 million compared to 1996.

Golf equipment sales have followed suit. Retail sales of balls and equipment were up nearly 35% through November vs. 2020, according to Golf Datatech.

Total sales of clubs and balls in 2020 surpassed 2019’s numbers at $2.9 billion despite a 31% dip in March and April of 2020. The increase was fueled by the biggest July on record contributing to the second highest quarter ever.

“There’s just a lot of interest in golf now,” Smith said. “I think COVID introduced a lot of people back to it.”

Projections for 2022 in Myrtle Beach are even more encouraging than 2021’s statistics.

According to GTS, rounds already booked at the agency’s 62 courses for the remainder of the year as of Jan. 1 are up 20 percent for a projected revenue increase of approximately 31 percent at an average of $5 more per round. Nearly 400,000 rounds were reserved as of New Year’s Day.

“That indicates there’s a lot of pent-up demand still to come to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and play a round of golf,” said Tracy Conner, GTS president of technology and Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association executive director.

Smith said he has been booking spring packages since August and has had by far the most advanced spring rounds booked in his 17 years in business.

“It’s super strong. We’ve had a lot of advanced bookings, more than ever,” Smith said. “I think they probably missed last spring’s trip, for those who didn’t do it, so they were like, ‘Man, we’ve got to get this down.’ We’ve had crazy growth for advanced bookings from August through November. Like more than 100 percent compared to last year, which was a COVID year but it was still strong.

“Now because the prices change — because as they fill up they raise the rate — the earlier you book the better the price is.”

Course profits have been boosted in recent years by dynamic pricing that fluctuates by day and time of day to take advantage of more coveted tee times and increased demand.

Increased operating costs for course owners and managers have cut into their profits, however. The golf industry has experienced much of the inflation and rising costs of products and delivery that other U.S. industries are facing nearly two years into the pandemic.

“Just for winter grass this year, the cost of grass is up 53 percent,” Smith said. “Everything is more expensive. The average golfer doesn’t think of that. But we’re still positioned pretty well as a good destination with a combination of everything.”

What may benefit spring golf is the return of more Canadians in the form of both weekly vacationers and longer-term snowbirds. The Canadian government adopted border restrictions last winter and spring that made it difficult for Canadians to leave.

GTS is currently marketing heavily in Canada to entice golfers to return, and nonstop Porter Air flights from Toronto to Myrtle Beach have been reinstated beginning March 9.

“That was a huge hit for us, certainly the snowbird traffic and then Canadian travel in general,” said GTS CEO Bill Golden, who said there are additional conversations with airlines to add flights from Canada to Myrtle Beach. “As a destination in general we need to get back and market as heavily if not invest more dollars than we ever have to encourage that traffic to come back. It’s a significant piece of business for us.”

2022 is more than promising for the Myrtle Beach golf industry.

“I actually think the future of the golf business is real exciting in our segment of the business,” Pardue said. “I’m excited about where we can go.”

Totals are rounds played on GTS’ current 62 courses

Totals are rounds played on GTS’ current 62 courses

MonthRounds% change from 2020% change from 2019
January100,454-20%+2%
February

107,725

-27%-28%
March

244,538

+22%-3%
April

281,155

+141%+4%
May

256,183

+42%+5%
June

203,925

+10%+26%
July

207,204

+17%+23%
August

177,493

+15%+10%
September

215,548

+15%+41%
October

270,008

+11%+16%
November

176,092

+7%+21%
December

133,863

+23%+47%
Total2,374,188+19%+12%

* Statistics according to Golf Tourism Solutions

Busy Myrtle Beach airport had ‘incredible’ year in 2021. Was it good for travelers?

Cabin fever was over for Myrtle Beach in 2021, at least at the airport.Long a destination for driving, Myrtle Beach International Airport saw thousands of new flights, destinations and hundreds of thousands of new air travelers passing through its gates last year.The airport had 3.2 million passengers pass through in 2021, a 188% increase over 2020, which like other airports, was hit hard by the pandemic, the airport ...

Cabin fever was over for Myrtle Beach in 2021, at least at the airport.

Long a destination for driving, Myrtle Beach International Airport saw thousands of new flights, destinations and hundreds of thousands of new air travelers passing through its gates last year.

The airport had 3.2 million passengers pass through in 2021, a 188% increase over 2020, which like other airports, was hit hard by the pandemic, the airport reported in a news release Wednesday. That’s also a 23% increase over 2019, the previous record holder for most passengers, when 2.6 million people made their way through its doors.

Part of the increase is attributed to Southwest Airlines’ expansion to the airport in May, adding dozens of new flights every week, the airport reported.

Spirit also added hundreds of new flights every week during the summer as it marked its 25th year of service to MYR. Frontier and United added several new nonstop flights to the airport.

Finally, at the end of the year, Canada’s Porter Airlines announced that it would resume flights between Toronto and Myrtle Beach in March for the first time since the pandemic began.

“This has been an incredible year for both the airport and our community as a whole,” said Scott Van Moppes, Horry County director of airports, in a statement.

“Our transition from the challenges and uncertainty of 2020 to the significant recovery of 2021 is a testament to the resilience of the Grand Strand and Horry County,” he said.

Yet, even as the airport hails 2021 as hallmark year, the airport’s growth wasn’t easy for some passengers. The airport routinely experienced a record number of travelers, even in times known for being less busy, like October.

In past years, MYR was an airport known for its last-minute travelers. Travelers could arrive at the airport 45 minutes before their flight left, breeze through security and make it onboard with plenty of time to spare. The airport was like that for much of the year, local tourism experts said, even during the summer.

Those days came to an end last summer. In June and July, the airport had hours-long lines to get through security. The lines were so long, they stretched the entire length of the airport at peak times on the weekends.

Reports became abundant of people missing flights because they were stuck in line trying to get through security. Others complained about not being able to order food — or having to abandon it before it was ready — once they were inside security because those lines also were too long.

By midsummer, the airport and the Transportation Security Administration were regularly reminding passengers to show up at least three hours early. They stressed that that meant getting to the airport three hours before the flight, not leaving the hotel three hours before.

Airport officials had little control over some problems. As the summer went on, it became harder to get a rental car. A few times, people reported finally being able to get a car after waiting in line for hours, only to find that the car itself was dirty. In some cases, they stuck with the car, needing a way to get around since the area lacks a strong public transportation system and cars from ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft could cost more than $100 at peak hours, for those who could get a ride at all.

The airport also dealt with hundreds of flight cancellations as COVID made staffing planes harder and bad weather snarled air traffic around the country. Spirit, the airport’s primary carrier, had dozens of cancellations per day for a week in late July and early August, leaving hundreds of people stranded.

By mid-July, however, airport officials were getting a handle on the surge in passengers. TSA had been able to make several operational changes to speed up security processing.

At its worst, the airport had a 71-minute wait time to get through security on July 3. Within a week, the agency was able to cut that down to 38 minutes.

Now, the airport is looking ahead. Plans are underway to expand its existing terminal to add more gates in the next few years. The airport is also adding 100,000 gallons of fuel storage capacity to help with the new flights and will spend $20 million to upgrade its rental car lot.

”As we look toward the future, the airport team is committed to continually improving both the customer experience and operational efficiency, and will always strive to make MYR the gold standard for airports around the nation,” Van Moppes said in a statement.

Red Cross preparing to open shelters if needed during icy weather events

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) -The American Red Cross of South Carolina is preparing for the expected icy weather events statewide.As Executive Director of the Eastern South Carolina Chapter of the Red Cross, Michael Hesbach works with state officials and local county emergency managers to identify the needs for shelter, including for weather events.He said the Red Cross is closely monitoring weather conditions so if the worst does happen, they will open up those shelters where needed, based on those requests.“We&rsquo...

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) -The American Red Cross of South Carolina is preparing for the expected icy weather events statewide.

As Executive Director of the Eastern South Carolina Chapter of the Red Cross, Michael Hesbach works with state officials and local county emergency managers to identify the needs for shelter, including for weather events.

He said the Red Cross is closely monitoring weather conditions so if the worst does happen, they will open up those shelters where needed, based on those requests.

“We’re looking at if we need to put shelters closer to North Myrtle Beach because that’s currently where the bigger ice is currently forecasted,” he said Thursday. “Yesterday that icebox also included Florence so we’re looking at deploying them there, so we’re monitoring it on an hourly basis as the weather reports released out, as far as where we need to stage equipment.”

Hesbach also said icy conditions can cause limbs to fall off trees and down the power lines, which results in some folks seeking shelter.

“It does not take a lot of ice for limbs to fall off trees and downed power lines. The number one reason why we’re going to be opening shelters is if there’s a sustained power outage in a specific region and that’s going to be predominately caused by ice,” he said.

Hesbach said the best way for folks to receive up-to-date information about where shelters are opening is to download the American Red Cross app.

He also said preparing for severe winter weather is very similar to preparing for a hurricane - and encouraged residents to start preparing as soon as possible.

Those preparations he recommends include making sure you have enough food and safely operating a space heater if applicable.

Hesbach recommends having a carbon monoxide detector if using a fuel-operated heater.

Another key thing is knowing where your water shut-off valves are located in your home.

“If you do have a pipe that freezes and bursts - when it thaws out, water it’s going to be going everywhere and you need to know where to shut that water off. Most houses have an external shut-off water valve in addition to the one at your meter base. Knowing where that water shut-off valve is can prevent a lot of damage after a winter weather emergency like this.”

Hesbach said those seeking help from the Red Cross need to remember the shelters are continuing to follow COVID-19 protocols. That means a face mask will be required.

You can review additional safety tips from the Red Cross on the organization’s website.

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