The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority announced today that it will continue DC Health Link enrollment past the March 31st deadline for individual and family coverage. Residents who need in-person or telephone help will now have through April 15th to enroll. People with an on-line account with DC Health Link who have not yet selected a health plan also will have through April 15th to enroll in a private health plan.
Staff has been monitoring the call center, in person assistance, and enrollment volume on a daily basis for the last several weeks. Although DC Health Link staff has taken steps to minimize potentially long hold times at the call center and have opened additional enrollment locations around the city, the demand for in-person and telephone assistance is very high.
“We know from the December experience that there are many last minute shoppers” said Mila Kofman, J.D. executive director of the DC Health Benefit Authority. “We also recognize that demand for in-person and telephone assistance is high and we know we cannot efficiently accommodate all consumers by the Monday, March 31 deadline. Continuing enrollment is the only way we can ensure that all consumers can get the coverage they need.”
Since March 10 (the last data release), enrollment through DC Health Link increased significantly. To date a total of 22,305 people have enrolled through DC Health Link’s individual marketplace, up from 17,899 on March 10. This is an increase of 4,406 people just in the last few weeks. (Note this data does not include enrollment through the small business marketplace.)
This week, the DC Health Link Contact Center is receiving approximately 1,200 calls per day compared to an average of 500 calls per day in early March. At a recent One Touch Enrollment event at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, approximately 25% of consumers who came for in-person enrollment were asked to come back on a different day due to high volume. Other enrollment events across the city also have had heavy traffic. A complete list of enrollment sites is available at DCHealthLink.com/events.
With the deadline just 5 days away, consumers are rushing to enroll. People know that to avoid an IRS tax penalty, they must be insured. Consumers know that if they don’t enroll now they will have to wait 8 months until the next open enrollment.
When enrolling through DCHealthLink.com after March 31st, consumers will be asked to attest that they sought either in-person help or telephone help or that they started the process of enrollment but could not finish.
The March 31st deadline does NOT apply to small businesses, individuals and families losing other coverage or those eligible for Medicaid. A complete list of circumstances that allow a person to enroll after open enrollment can be found here.