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Obamacare Marketplace Profile: the District of Columbia’s Health Insurance Exchange

Obamacare Marketplace Profile: the District of Columbia’s Health Insurance Exchange

Posted Oct 31, 2013 by Jenifer Dorsey

Exchange name: DC Health Link
Website: dchealthlink.com
State-based or federally run: The District of Columbia’s DC Health Link was among the 17 declared state-based health insurance exchanges.

Plans: DC Health Link offers more than 30 health insurance plans to individuals and families who live in the nation’s capital district. Small businesses may also offer coverage to their employees to through the new Obamacare health insurance marketplace.

Washington, D.C., residents who wish to learn more about Affordable Care Act–qualified health plans offered to them must visit dchealthlink.com and create an account. As with all plans that meet minimal coverage standards for Obamacare, those available through DC Health Link fall into the four metal level categories —bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Catastrophic plans are available to those under 30 as well as those who can provide certification of financial hardship that prevents them from affording standard coverage.
All health plans that meet the health reform law’s individual mandate include services within the 10 essential health benefits categories. In states that did not select a benchmark plan for essential health benefits, the default EHB plan became the state’s largest small group health plan.
Rates: To browse rate information, consumers must enroll at dchealthlink.com. In a study of how the Affordable Care Act impacts health insurance premiums, the Manhattan Institute found the following average rate increase for the District of Columbia:

  • Age 27: 25 percent increase
  • Age 40: 18 percent increase
  • Age 64: 81 percent increase

Monthly premiums will vary based on plan selection as well as the applicant’s age, geographical location, family size and tobacco use. Under the Affordable Care Act, Americans cannot be denied coverage or charged more due to preexisting conditions. These provisions apply whether plans are purchased via the marketplace or not.
Those who purchase health coverage through the Obamacare exchanges may qualify for tax credits and additional premium subsidies, depending on household income. The healthedeals.com Health Care Reform Calculator, which was listed among The Financial Times “Best Online Tools for the Toughest Health Questions,” can help those planning to buy from an exchange calculate their Obamacare health insurance cost and tax credit.
Consumer assistance: D.C. residents who need help shopping and applying for coverage may call 855-532-5465. They may also visit dchealthlink.com/help to find licensed insurance brokers and other trained experts, download forms and get news updates.
Additional coverage options
Consumers in all states are wise to consider additional protection. For instance, a bundled gap plan that includes coverages such as accident medical expense insurance and accident disability income insurance pays  lump-sum cash benefits when a qualifying event occurs and can help create more comprehensive benefits like those offered through an employer. A critical illness insurance plan pays out lump-sum cash benefits upon diagnosis of certain illnesses that can be used for everything from medical bills to childcare.
Supplemental insurance is not available through state-based or federally operated health insurance exchanges and do not qualify for Obamacare premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies. However, these plans come in designs to fit various household budgets, and they easy to obtain directly from the plan’s carrier or a licensed agent or broker.
Need coverage now?
If you need health insurance to get you by until Jan. 1, 2014, a temporary insurance plan can provide coverage for as few as 30 days. Start shopping on healthedeals.com or contact a healthedeals.com sales consultant for more information on short-term health insurance and supplemental plans.

Jenifer Dorsey is a freelance writer whose specialties include health and fitness, wellness, sports and recreation. She is a competitive amateur track cyclist who also enjoys mountain biking, hiking, camping and other outdoor adventure. Jenifer received a B.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago and is an MFA candidate at Naropa University. She lives in Colorado.