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DC Health Link Will Open for Business October 1

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

DC Health Link Will Open for Business October 1

Statement by Mila Kofman, JD, Executive Director, DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority
 
DC Health Link – the District of Columbia’s new online health insurance marketplace – will open October 1.   It will have new affordable health plan options for small businesses and residents in the District.  While many core features will be available on October 1, DC Health Link is not deploying one function.  We have developed procedures to ensure affected residents will not experience a delay in coverage, while we continuously enhance functionality with new tools and features.  
 
In this “start-up” phase we want to ensure the best possible customer experience.  We are making trained experts – DC Health Link Assisters and DC Health Link Certified Insurance Experts (licensed brokers) – available from day one to help all users navigate the process of applying, shopping, comparing, and choosing coverage.  In October, hundreds of trained experts will provide “concierge” services to consumers and businesses.  In addition our contact center (1-855-532-5465) is open and will be available to connect consumers to trained experts for in-person help.  We encourage all businesses and individuals to take advantage of the no-fee DC Health Link’s concierge service. 
 
After extensive testing of DC Health Link online marketplace, we are excited to announce that all functionality is operational for small businesses and almost all functionality is operational for individual consumers.  On October 1, the following functions will be available to District businesses (this highlights core functions): 
 
Small businesses with 50 or fewer workers can shop, compare, and sign up for coverage through DCHealthLink.com.  Features and options include:
  • Choice of insurers (two Aetna companies, two CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Companies, Kaiser Permanente, and two United Healthcare companies);
  • Choice of 267 health plan options including HMOs, Point-of-Service, PPOs, and HSA-compatible plans;
  • Plans at all metal levels:  bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.
Employers can do everything online directly or using a broker:  
  • Create a secure account, pick options to offer to their employees (and dependents), pick contribution level, and provide employee census;
  • Decide whether to offer employees (1) a choice of all plans from all insurers in a metal level; (2) a choice all plans from one insurance company; or (3)one plan from one insurance company;
  • Pay for coverage online, by check, or by phone.  Payment must be made by December 12 for coverage to be effective January 1, 2014;
  • Use an online tool to help calculate their number of full-time equivalent employees;
  • Use an online tool to find a DC Health Link Certified Broker (if an employer is not working with one now).
Starting October 1, DC Health Link will have a secure web portal for brokers and Assisters that allows them to assist their clients (small businesses and their employees as well as individuals and families) with all online functions. Brokers and Assisters will receive information when an employer or resident has asked for their assistance.
 
On October 1, the following options and functions will be available to District residents: 
  • Choice of insurers (two Aetna companies, two CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield Companies, and Kaiser Permanente);
  • Choice of 34 health plan options including HMOs, PPOs, and catastrophic plans; and 
  • Plans at all metal levels:  bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.
Through DC Health Link, people can do many things online directly or with the help of 
 
DC Health Link Assisters and brokers:  
  • Create a secure personal account online;
  • Review prices and compare up to 34 plan options;
  • Pick and enroll in a plan;
  • Make the first payment through DC Health Link online using a credit or debit card or a bank withdrawal, or by mail or phone.  Payment must be made by December 15 for coverage to be effective January 1, 2014; and
  • Find a DC Health Link Assister or Certified Broker (if a person is not working with one now) through an online tool.
DC Health Link is not currently deploying the function that makes new Medicaid eligibility determinations and calculates tax credits for purchase of private insurance due to a high error rate discovered through extensive systems testing.  
 
People seeking Medicaid coverage or tax credits will be able to use DC Health Link to create an account and submit an online application. Their initial eligibility determination will be completed off-line by experts.
 
Those people who have submitted applications will automatically receive an eligibility determination for tax credits in early November.  Based on an accurate premium reduction calculation a consumer will have ample time to make an informed decision about which health plan to enroll in.  Coverage will begin Jan 1, 2014, as long as payment is made by December 15. 
 
We appreciate the opportunity to serve the District’s businesses and residents.