These days, it seems that everyone in Washington, D.C., is talking about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the landmark law that helps ensure that individuals and families have access to quality, affordable health coverage. Since the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2010, more than 20 million people across the country have gained health insurance, dropping the nation’s uninsured rate to a record low of 8.8%.
In Washington, D.C., we’ve seen a great success story through DC Health Link, the District of Columbia’s online health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act. Since opening for business on October 1, 2013, DC Health Link has served more than 300,000 people enrolled in private individual health plans, small group health plans, or Medicaid. DC’s uninsured rate has been cut in half and DC ranks in the top 3 states with the lowest rate of uninsured. In fact, the District has the lowest uninsured rate it has ever had with more than 96% of our population insured.
However, since January 2017 with a new White House administration, much of the talk on Capitol Hill has been about repealing the Affordable Care Act.
The good news for District residents is that DC Health Link isn’t going anywhere, no matter what Congress does. DC Health Link is established in District law, locally managed and controlled, financially sound and going strong. DC Health Link was built to reflect DC’s priorities and serve the needs of District residents and small businesses. What’s happening on Capitol Hill doesn’t impact your ability to enroll in quality, affordable health insurance for 2017, and you may also be eligible for premium reductions.
DC Health Link has 20 private health insurance options to choose from for residents and their families from CareFirst and Kaiser Permanente. For 2017, small businesses have 151 health plan options from Aetna, CareFirst, Kaiser and United. Individuals and families can enroll if they qualify for a special enrollment due to a change in their life like getting married. Small businesses can sign up throughout the year. Residents can apply for Medicaid throughout the year.
When DC Health Link opened for business in 2013, the District was one of four states that opened on time and stayed open even though DC was the last state to start building the information technology (IT). Since then, DC Health Link’s innovation and technical advances continue to grow. In January 2017, the Clear Choices Campaign ranked DC first among all state based and federal marketplaces for consumer shopping tools. In 2016, DC Health Link’s IT system won Amazon Web Services “Best Practices in Innovation” Award for its open source code, agile development, in the cloud. This focus on technological development was a major factor in the Massachusetts Health Connector’s decision to use a separate branch of DC Health Link’s existing online platform to improve available offerings to Massachusetts small businesses and their employees. This is a first of its kind partnership in the nation among state-based marketplaces.
This year, DC Health Link will offer an extended Open Enrollment Period for District residents. Rather than ending Open Enrollment on December 15, 2017 like HealthCare.gov, DC Health Link is offering a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for District residents to sign up for health insurance coverage from December 16, 2017 through January 31, 2018. This gives District residents a three month open enrollment period of November 1, 2017 through January 31, 2018, with the same calendar days and amount of time to enroll as last year’s Open Enrollment Period.
For more information on how to enroll in DC Health Link, visit DCHealthLink.com, call (855) 532-LINK (5465).