The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority Executive Board today approved grants to 35 DC-based organizations to provide in-person expert assistance to individuals, families, and small businesses looking to enroll in health insurance coverage through DC Health Link, the District’s new online health insurance marketplace.
“We are excited to create these partnerships with trusted organizations that have deep roots in the communities that make up the District of Columbia,” said Executive Board Chair Diane C. Lewis, M.P.A. “The new health law offers essential benefits that will improve the health and security of the residents of our city. It is critically important that we have trained experts available to help ensure those benefits reach the people who need them.”
The grants awarded today total $6.4 million to support more than 150 trained experts across the District in 2013 and 2014.
These experts will undergo approximately 30 hours of rigorous training to enable them to answer questions about the new health law. Once trained, they will help people use the online marketplace to determine their eligibility for private insurance, financial help to reduce monthly premiums, help with out-of-pocket expenses, or Medicaid. They will provide help with the on-line application and will work closely with DC Health Link certified and licensed insurance brokers who will be available to provide advice including recommendations on best coverage depending on a person’s needs.
The organizations will focus on helping the uninsured and hard-to-reach populations. According to published research, more than 42,000 District residents are uninsured. More than half (58%) of the uninsured are African American, two-thirds are male, and a majority are under 35 years old. People who are uninsured are more likely to live in Wards 1, 4, 5, and 7.
Funded organizations include members of the faith-based community, community-based health care providers, business associations, patient and consumer advocacy groups, civic organizations, cultural associations, and organizations focused on assisting those living with HIV/AIDS. Grantees are located in each of the District’s eight wards. Some organizations will focus on certain populations or parts of the city while others will work across the District with multiple groups. Assistance will be provided in a variety of languages including English, Spanish, Amharic, and American Sign Language.
“DC Health Link Assisters are a critical part of our enrollment efforts. The District’s low uninsured rate is both great news and a challenge. There are no easy to reach uninsured people, so we have to be smart, strategic, and creative. These organizations are trusted voices and sources of information in their communities and they will be our boots on the ground. Together we will get the District to near universal coverage,” said Mila Kofman, J.D., executive director of the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority.
DC Health Link will open for enrollment October 1 and coverage will begin January 1, 2014. Individuals and families will have until March 31, 2014, to enroll and small businesses will be able to shop for coverage at any time during the year. DC Health Link will also have trained experts available online and on the phone to answer questions and assist with enrollment.
A full list of the organizations receiving grant funding: (view chart):