(Washington, DC) –The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority (DCHBX) Executive Board unanimously voted to adopt the recommendations from its Standing Advisory Board to extend the Special Enrollment Periods (SEP) for COVID-19 for District residents who need health insurance and for employees and dependents of employers already covered on DC Health Link to January 31, 2021, or longer if the District’s public health emergency is extended later than that date.
“We want to make sure District residents and small businesses have every available opportunity to access quality affordable health insurance coverage—especially during this COVID-19 public health emergency,” said Diane C. Lewis, M.P.A., Chair of the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority Executive Board. “We heard from District residents and small business owners who told us about the economic hardships they are experiencing. Our health is too important to risk going without health insurance coverage, and we encourage anyone who’s uninsured to visit DCHealthLink.com and sign up for coverage today. We greatly appreciate the work of the Standing Advisory Board and their in-depth review of SEP policies, always looking for ways to expand opportunities for District residents and employers to enroll in quality health insurance.”
Extension of Special Enrollment Periods for COVID-19: When Mayor Bowser declared a Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 in March of this year, DCHBX quickly responded by eliminating hurdles and opening enrollment for uninsured District residents, their families, and employees and dependents who work for employers covered on DC Health Link to enroll in private health insurance coverage through SEPs for COVID-19. These COVID-19 SEPs were set to expire September 15, 2020. Recognizing that the economic and human toll of COVID-19 continues and quality health insurance is a life line for many during this continued public health crisis, the DCHBX Executive Board is extending the SEPs for COVID-19 to the end of the District’s individual market open enrollment in 2021 (January 31, 2021). The policy also recognizes the COVID-19 crisis is unpredictable and guarantees that, if the District’s Public Health Emergency continues past January 2021, the SEPs will not end in January. The deadline for COVID-19 SEPs will automatically extend to the end of the month in which the District’s Public Health Emergency expires.
COVID-19 SEP is important for many reasons. One, it allows uninsured people to enroll in quality health insurance without waiting until the next open enrollment. Usually, a person is required to have a qualifying life event such as marriage, birth of a child, or loss of other healthcare coverage—to be able to enroll outside of an annual open enrollment period. COVID-19 SEP allows enrollment for all. And two, it allows coverage to be effective immediately. Specially, coverage can begin the month a person enrolls or the month after. For example, if a person enrolls in September, coverage can begin either September 1 or October 1 depending on the date that person chooses for the effective date. In 2020, 4,778 District residents enrolled through SEPs to-date compared 4,005 people enrolling during the same time period last year in individual coverage – 19% higher than last year. In early April, enrollment was 70% higher than the previous time last year. And 741 people have enrolled in their employer’s coverage on DC Health Link using the COVID-19 SHOP SEP.
Anyone who is uninsured in the District, should visit DCHealthLink.com and sign up for coverage now. Visit DCHealthLink.com to shop, compare, and enroll in coverage. Depending on income, residents may qualify for Medicaid or premium reductions for private health insurance.
All DC Health Link health insurers cover COVID-19 diagnosis, testing, and treatment without any cost-sharing (no deductibles, no coinsurance, and no copays). This applies to all levels of coverage including catastrophic plans and HSA-compatible high deductible health plans.
For more information about DC Health Link and Coronavirus, visit https://www.dchealthlink.com/coronavirus. DC Health Link enrollees can find a useful and easy to read summary chart on this dedicated webpage highlighting how DC Health Link health insurers cover COVID-19 related services.