Your Guide to Health Insurance in Washington DC
Before we jump right into Washington DC health insurance and everything you need to know, let’s start with a little background information. In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a “Obamacare” or ACA) was passed with the goal of getting all Americans access to affordable health insurance. To meet this goal, one measure Obamacare took was to create the ACA health insurance marketplaces, or health exchanges: one-stop shops where Americans can choose from a range of standardized, government-regulated health care plans. Health exchanges are also where eligible people can get subsidies, which lower the cost of their health plans.
States were given the option to run their own local exchange, take part in a multi-state exchange, or use the federal exchange. States that run their own exchanges get to customize many elements, including the time frame during which their residents can sign up for a plan. Several states decided to operate their own state exchanges and continue to do so to this day. Washington DC is one of those states.
Washington DC’s Health Insurance Landscape: Then and Now
The Washington DC health insurance exchange is called DC Health Link. Before the ACA, 7 percent of Washingtonians were uninsured. Since the introduction of DC Health Link, the percent of Washingtonians without health insurance has dropped to 3.7!
22 thousand people have enrolled for health insurance through DC Health Link, and Washington DC has one of the lowest uninsured rates in the country.
The Washington DC Health Insurance Exchange
DC Health Link is where eligible people throughout the state can find subsidized ACA plans. Open Enrollment for 2019 in Washington DC begins November 1 and ends January 31. Lucky you – this sign up window is significantly longer than the window given on the federal exchange!
Like all other state exchanges, each plan on DC Health Link covers 10 essential health benefits. These include things like prescription coverage, maternity and mental health care, and laboratory services.
Buying insurance with DC Health Link involves four steps:
1. Create an account on DC Health Link
2. Complete the online application form
3. Compare your options
4. Select your plan and enroll
In true health insurance fashion, each of these steps can be trickier than you expect. Many people need help navigating the website, estimating their income, figuring out if they are eligible for subsidies, and understanding what documents are needed for proof of income, citizenship, or identity. Luckily, you can find an assister to help you with your application!
DC Health Link’s Intricacies: What You Need to Know for 2019
All insurers that offered plans on DC Health Link for 2018 will continue to do so for 2019. This means all three carriers are returning to the exchange. These three carriers include:
Kaiser of the Mid-Atlantic States
Washingtonians are lucky because they have a pretty good selection when it comes to choosing a plan.
According to a recent Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking press release, insurance plan prices are increasing. The amount by which it increases depends on where in Washington DC you live. On average across the state, your monthly premium will increase by 13 percent if you choose to keep your current health plan. While this may seem scary, most health insurance shoppers can generally avoid rate increases entirely by switching to the cheapest plan within their metal tier.
If you live in Washington DC, the start of Open Enrollment (the time of year when you can enroll in a new health plan) is here. Be sure to find your most affordable plan, and you’ll be well on your way for smarter, better savings all year long. And don’t forget – if you need help finding a subsidy or picking a plan, our experts are here to help!