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DC Health Link Assister Program

The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority partners with the Institute for Public Health Innovation to administer the DC Health Link Assister program. The District of Columbia’s online health insurance marketplace, DC Health Link, was established as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Operated by the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority, DC Health Link is designed to help District residents select and purchase affordable, quality health insurance. Paired with the creation of the health insurance marketplaces, every state and the District of Columbia have entities called “Assisters” – experts who have been trained to enroll uninsured, hard-to-reach populations.

IPHI collaborated with the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority to identify Assister organizations through a competitive grant application process. Thirty-three organizations, consisting of civic and faith-based organizations, health care providers, and patient advocate organizations, among others, became Assister program grantees in August 2013. The organizations were in part selected based on the strength of their trusted relationships within the communities that they serve. The DC Health Link Assister grantees have two primary objectives: 1) to raise awareness and understanding of the Affordable Care Act and 2) to help District residents learn about, apply for, and enroll in appropriate health insurance products via DC Health Link. The grantees employ 187 trained Assisters.

As the DC Health Link grant administrator, IPHI supports the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority and Assister organizations in the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the DC Health Link Assister Program. Examples of IPHI’s work include:

  • The development and maintenance of an online database to collect data on Assister outreach and enrollment activities
  • Providing technical assistance to grantees on data reporting
  • Strategic meetings with grantees discussing approaches to reaching and enrolling clients into Qualified Health Plans
  • Monitoring grantee performance to identify opportunities to reach additional uninsured populations

Since September 2013, the District has deployed Assisters and Navigators throughout the District to educate the public about DC Health Link and to help with online enrollment for health insurance.  These trained experts were strategically stationed at key areas around the city to help educate and enroll uninsured and hard-to-reach residents.  IPHI provides analysis of consumer engagement and enrollment data which helps guide DCHL outreach efforts and Assister grantee strategies to connect with consumers.

Assisters and Navigators have been highly visible assets to the community, resulting in significant public support for the Assister Program, as well as recognition from District leadership. To find a trained expert who can assist with online health insurance enrollment during the upcoming enrollment season, visit https://dchealthlink.com/find-expert.

The 2016 open enrollment period for the health insurance marketplace begins November 1st with coverage beginning January 1st. You must enroll by January 31st in order to obtain private health insurance through the marketplace in 2016. If you don’t enroll by January 31, 2016, you cannot enroll in a health insurance plan for 2016 unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

Important Dates for the 2016 Open Enrollment

  • November 1, 2015:Open Enrollment starts — first day you can enroll in a 2016 Marketplace
  • January 1, 2016:First date 2016 coverage can start
  • January 31, 2016:2016 Open Enrollment ends

For more information on the DC Health Link Assister program, contact Christine Stewart at cstewart@institutephi.org or contact us at 202.747.3512.