It’s important to remember that DC residents and businesses can still get insurance for all of 2017 through DC Health Link, our local insurance marketplace, despite uncertainty about the future of federal health insurance programs following the national elections. We don’t know what will happen to these programs, but it will not affect health care options for next year. Consumers should take advantage of their health coverage choices now.
Nationally, consumers are taking note. Over a million people have selected a plan this enrollment season through the federal marketplace, Healthcare.gov, ahead of last year at the same point. Several states with their own marketplaces like DC have also seen a spike in enrollment this year. Typically, this doesn’t happen until mid-December as people rush to get coverage that begins on January 1.
Having health coverage is important for a lot of reasons. Consumers can regularly receive preventive care like routine checkups or vaccinations, and are also protected if they face an unexpected illness and need to go to the emergency room. What’s more, consumers can enroll no matter what their health status is—a key provision of health reform referred to as guaranteed issue.
DC Health Link is offering 20 different private health insurance options for residents and their families, and 151 options for small businesses. It provides an easy and transparent way to compare plan benefits and prices, one of the key advantages of creating a health insurance marketplace. And many can use DC Health Link to get financial assistance to help pay for premiums. Residents with incomes below 400 percent of the poverty line ($47,520 for an individual or $100,000 for a family of four) may be eligible for tax credits to reduce their monthly premium payments. Others can use DC Health Link to determine whether they are eligible for, and can apply to, Medicaid.
With health insurance options available to virtually all ages, incomes, and citizenship statuses, it’s little surprise that DC has its lowest rates of uninsured residents ever, and one of the lowest rates of uninsured compared with states.
Open enrollment runs until January 31 for individuals applying for private insurance, or year-round for small businesses or those applying for Medicaid. For more information, check out the Health Plan Comparison Tool for 2017, or log on to dchealthlink.com directly.
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