The federal health law known as the Affordable Care Act provides many options for small businesses that want to offer a Health Benefits Program to their employees that meets their needs and budget. Small business owners know their ability to offer employees high-quality health insurance is a competitive advantage in the labor market. DC Health Link is here to help.

Small Businesses and DC Health Link

DC Health Link is the online health insurance marketplace for individuals, families, and small business owners in the District of Columbia. DC-based small businesses with 1-50 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) will be able to see all health insurance policies and prices and make choices to best meet their needs and budget.

As a small business owner, you’ll be able to:

  • Choose health insurance coverage from Aetna, CareFirst, Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealthcare;
  • Choose from over 100 different plans;
  • Set your employer contribution level;
  • Choose the plan options you want to offer to your employees; and
  • Work with your broker to get help with coverage options. If you’re not working with an expert insurance broker now, you can choose among DC Health Link certified brokers to help you with plan selection and enrollment at no cost to you.

Also some small businesses will qualify for tax credits.

More choices


All major health insurance companies in the small group market today - Aetna, CareFirst, Kaiser Permanente and United Healthcare – are participating in DC Health Link. Together, they offer over 100 different health plans, including HMO, PPO, POS and HSA-compatible plans.

kaiser permanente
united health care
More competition


The insurance market is more competitive because all insurers must post their prices and benefits on dchealthlink.com. Such transparency has resulted in health insurance companies lowering rates after initially requesting higher rates, as well as some companies adding additional products.

More control


DC Health Link lets you decide what level of contribution you want to make toward health insurance for your employees and their dependents. You must contribute at least 50% of single coverage for each employee in at least one plan that you offer. You can choose whether or not to contribute towards coverage of family members, if you choose to make family coverage available. If you can’t afford to contribute at least 50% for each employee in the lowest cost plan that you choose to offer, you can enroll during a special annual enrollment period each year for coverage effective January 1st and not have to contribute the minimum 50%.

Estimate the cost to cover Your employees
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More options


DC Health Link has many options to help your small business meet its needs and budget and extend coverage to your employees. You'll be able to offer your employees:

Employer Chooses: Employee Chooses:
One metal level (Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze) From all health plans offered by all health insurance companies within the selected metal level
One health insurance company (Aetna, CareFirst, Kaiser Permanente, or United Healthcare) From all health plans offered across all metal levels that are offered by the selected health insurance company
One health plan Whether or not to enroll in the selected health plan

Offering your employees a choice of plans will never cost you more.

Dental coverage is also available through DC Health Link. Employees can choose to purchase separate vision coverage directly from an insurance company.

Help to reduce costs


Small businesses with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent (FTEs) employees may be able to reduce their costs by qualifying for federal tax credits. The tax credit will cover up to 50% of an employer’s contribution (or up to 35% for a non-profit organization). To be eligible, you must:

  • Have fewer than 25 FTEs;
  • Have average employee wages of less than $50,000 a year;
  • Purchase coverage through DC Health Link; and
  • Pay at least 50% of the cost of single coverage for each employee.

For more information, read the IRS guide for Small Business Health Care Tax Credit and the SHOP Marketplace.

Get expert help

Get Expert Help

Securing the right insurance begins with selecting the right insurance adviser. Small businesses are encouraged to continue working with brokers to help them make decisions about health benefits. Brokers are available at no cost to you or your employees. Your relationship with your broker doesn’t end once you purchase coverage but continues throughout the lifetime of your health insurance coverage. DC Health Link certified brokers have the training and expertise to be able to serve your needs. If you don’t currently have a broker, you can use our online directory to find a Broker and download Guidance for Business Owners – a guide to working with your broker.