District further extends health care open enrollment period


Sikh Gurdwara assists in DC Health Link open enrollment at a community event. Credit, Kishan Putta

by Current News Staff Writer

While many states ended their health care open enrollment at the end of December, the District is one of a handful of places that extends its open enrollment period through the end of January — and this year, is giving residents an additional six days, with a new deadline to sign up by 11:59pm on Wednesday, February 6th.  Individuals who sign up by that deadline will have coverage beginning March 1, 2019.

A D.C. law requires all residents to have health coverage in 2019, get an exemption, or pay a tax penalty on their D.C. taxes. DC Health Link is the District’s online health insurance marketplace, created as a result of the Affordable Care Act, which encourages visitors to shop, compare, and enroll in coverage that fits their needs and budgets.   

From a faith-based open enrollment event at Shepherd Park Christian Church on Sunday, 1:20:2019. Credit, Ron Thomas

In an effort to provide for D.C.’s hardest to reach uninsured residents ahead of the new February 6th deadline, DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority Executive Director Mila Kofman and DC Health Link staff, along with various community and faith-based partners, have joined in several “Faith in Action” enrollment assistance events, where certified in-person assisters were onsite to provide free, confidential enrollment support and help with plan selection. These experts also helped to answer questions and provide information about financial help with plan premiums and Medicaid.

Additionally, there have been enrollment opportunities at public spaces, including Ben’s Chili Bowl, the Wilson Building Open House, and two D.C. DMV locations in early February.

DC Health Link customer service representatives will be available by phone at (855) 532-5465 for extended hours (8 a.m – 8 p.m.) through Wednesday, February 6th to work with individuals seeking to enroll in health insurance coverage effective March 1. In-person assistance will also be available at enrollment centers throughout the District to assist residents with the enrollment process through February 6th.

If residents are unable to connect with assistance by the deadline, they should send an email that includes their contact information and the nature of the difficulties experienced to [email protected]. DC Health Link staff will follow up with these consumers and will work with them to complete their enrollment for coverage effective March 1, 2019.

There are 25 private health insurance options for individuals and families in the District from CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente. Small businesses—as well as individuals and families eligible for Medicaid—can enroll through DCHealthLink.com at any point.