District of Columbia: 17.8K QHPs thru 12/11; down 7.4% year over year

Last week I acquired the DC Health Link enrollment data for the first two weeks of 2019 Open Enrollment. It showed that DC, unlike most of the other state-based exchanges, was lagging behind last year for the first two weeks (although not as much as most of the HC.gov states).

Well, I just received updated data out of DC and the enrollment situation over the following four weeks didn't improve (if anything they dropped off slightly more):

  • Nov. 1 - Dec. 11, 2017: 19,252 QHP selections
  • Nov. 1 - Dec. 11, 2018: 17,825 QHP selections

That's a drop of around 7.4% year over year so far.

As with most other state-based exchanges, the numbers for both years include auto-renewals, which means the vast bulk of 2019 enrollments are likely already baked in. Last year's final tally was 19,289; DC has already reached 92% of that as of 12/11. Keep in mind that DC's Open Enrollment Period does not end on Saturday the 15th; it continues for another 47 days after that, through January 31st.

DC's report also includes all sorts of wonky demographic breakout data, and even closes with currently effectuated numbers for both the individual and small business (SHOP) markets. Remember, DC's SHOP market is unusually high (especially compared to the individual market) because the ACA requires all members of Congress and their staff to enroll using it if they want their 72% FEHB subsidy.

Like New Jersey, DC has also reinstated the ACA's individual mandate penalty...but also like New Jersey, part of the problem with DC enrollment might be that not enough people know the mandate is still in place.

The exchange website does have a listing for the mandate penalty in their FAQ...

Get Covered. Stay Covered.


A DC law begins in 2019 that requires residents to have qualifying health coverage, get an exemption, or pay a penalty on their DC taxes.

Pay a tax penalty

Find out about the penalty for not having qualifying health coverage or an exemption.

(learn more)

...however, as of this writing there's no hint of the penalty being mentioned on the home page of the exchange website, and even when you go to the FAQ it's sort of buried...you have to click "For Consumers" at the bottom, then scroll halfway down the page to find the question about the penalty.