DC Health Link, the District of Columbia's ACA exchange, has released a new 2021 Open Enrollment report, and while the numbers aren't surprising, they're also a bit fuzzy for a couple of reasons.
Officially, the new report states that 19,997 DC residents selected an individual market ACA exchange plan, up just 65 people over last year's 19,932 (+0.3%). However, there's several factors which make this a bit misleading:
DC Residents Without Health Insurance Can Get Covered Now Through DC Health Link
Annual Open Enrollment is over, but DC Health Link’s COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period continues through the duration of DC’s public health emergency
(Washington, DC) – Uninsured District of Columbia residents have more time to enroll in health coverage for 2021. From now through the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents can enroll using DC Health Link’s Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for COVID-19. All DC Health Link plans cover diagnosis, treatment, testing, and vaccination for COVID-19 for free.
Hispanic leaders to discuss the vulnerability of Hispanic communities to COVID-19 and state of enrollment opportunities at 6th Annual Hispanic Leadership Health Forum; Virtual enrollment and outreach events scheduled throughout the week
Despite national studies showing the Hispanic community saw the biggest drops in uninsured rates thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the uninsured rate for the Hispanic community continues to be significantly higher than in other minority communities, according to a recent United States Census report.
In celebration of the National Hispanic Enrollment Week of Action, DC Health Link—in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Latino Affairs (MOLA), Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GWHCC), Mary’s Center and other community based organizations—will host its Annual Hispanic Enrollment Week of Action. DC Health Link is using this Enrollment Week of Action to accelerate outreach efforts to promote, educate and motivate Hispanics to enroll in quality, affordable health insurance. The Hispanic Enrollment Week of Action runs from January 12, 2021 through January 16, 2020.
Ther's not a whole lot of interest here, but it's worth noting that DC's effectuated enrollment in November was 7.6% higher than a year ago. This is again likely due to the extended "open" COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period in 2020:
It's turned into an annual tradition: The official annual ACA Open Enrollment Period (OEP) runs from November 1st - December 15th, but most of the state-based ACA exchanges have later deadlines. hThen, right around the 12/15 point, it begins: One by one, some of the state-based exchanges announce further extensions of their deadlines to #GetCovered for the upcoming year.
In some cases they simply bump out the deadline for coverage starting in January, with the final "hard" deadline for February or March coverage staying where it is. In other cases they were never allowing Open Enrollment start dates past January to begin with, so it's the hard deadline which is being extended.
In any event, here's this year's batch of announcements; note that this list could grow longer over the next week or two:
Information About Approved Rates for January 2021 Health Plan Offerings on DC Health Link
Open Enrollment for Plan Year 2021 DC Health Link’s open enrollment begins November 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021. DC Health Link is an online marketplace created for individuals, families, and small business owners in the District of Columbia to shop, compare, and select health insurance that meets their health needs and budgets. For more information, visit dchealthlink.com or call (855) 532-5465.
This page contains approved health plan rate information for the District of Columbia’s health insurance marketplace, DC Health Link, for plan year 2021.
Me, June 16th, after several months of various state-based ACA exchanges bumping out their COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period deadlines by a month, then another month, then another month:
I admit that this is starting to get a bit silly. At a certain point I'm guessing at least one of the state exchanges will just say "screw it" and open 2020 enrollment up for the full year.
The point of a deadline is a) to prevent people from trying to game the system by deliberately waiting until they're sick/injured before enrolling in coverage (thus driving up premiums for everyone else) and b) to goad people into actually taking action (deadlines do have a clear positive impact on enrollment). With the COVID-19 pandemic having thrown the entire healthcare system into disarray, neither of those seem to be much of a factor this year.
This page contains proposed health plan rate information for the District of Columbia’s health insurance marketplace, DC Health Link, for plan year 2021.
The District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) received 188 proposed health insurance plan rates for review from Aetna, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Kaiser Permanente and United Healthcare in advance of open enrollment for plan year 2021 on DC Health Link, the District of Columbia’s health insurance marketplace.
The four insurance companies filed proposed rates for individuals, families and small businesses for the 2021 plan year. Overall, 188 plans were filed, compared to 181 last year. The number of small group plans increased from 156 to 163, and the number of individual plans remained at 25.
A few days ago, however, they announced an interesting expansion on the COVID SEP...one specifically intended for employees of small businesses which offer ACA SHOP plans to their employees which these employees haven't enrolled in as of yet:
DC Health Link Expands Opportunities to Get Covered During Public Health Emergency
Monday, April 6, 2020
Responding to COVID-19 pandemic, DC Health Link permits uninsured employees of DC small businesses that offer health insurance through DC Health Link to get covered now
ALL OTHER STATES: You may qualify for a 60-day Special Enrollment Period (SEP) if you've recently lost (or will soon lose) your employer-based healthcare coverage, or if you've experienced other Qualifying Life Events (QLE) such as getting marrinew yorked/divorced, moving, giving birth/adopting a child, getting out of prison, turning 26 etc. For these SEPs you may have to provide documentation to verify your QLE. Visit HealthCare.Gov or your state's ACA exchange website for details on the process.
DC Health Link to Offer Even More Opportunities for Residents to Get Covered
DCHBX Executive Board Votes to Allow Pre-Natal Special Enrollment Period and Four Other New Opportunities
Washington, DC – With Open Enrollment recently concluded, District residents and small businesses have new opportunities to sign up for health insurance coverage through DC Health Link. The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority (DCHBX) Executive Board recently adopted recommendations from its Standing Advisory Board to create four Special Enrollment Periods (SEP) and an extended open enrollment period for DC small businesses.
This is very interesting. ACA Open Enrollment deadline extensions have become kind of a running joke over the years, but for the most part they've been restricted to the December deadlines. the states with deadlines already extending into January have stuck with them for the most part...until this year.
A few days ago, New York State of Health announced that they're extending their final enrollment deadline (for March 1st coverage) by a week, until midnight on Friday, February 7th.