You’ve seen it on the news–in fact, it’s a weekly headline. It was a radioactive topic during the Presidential debate season, and it continues to weigh heavy on the minds of Americans across the country…The Affordable Care Act is on the chopping block. So, what does that mean for the DC Health Link in 2017? The two go hand-in-hand: don’t they?
Before the Affordable Care Act and DC Health Link, America saw 45,000 preventable deaths every year due to lack of insurance coverages. Before the Affordable Care Act and the DC Health Link, medical expenses reigned as the leading cause of bankruptcy. When the ACA was first passed, DC sprang into action, working to provide comprehensive coverage to all citizens, regardless of race, gender, personal habits, or preexisting conditions. With the ACA, all could receive essential benefits without having to worry about being denied care. With the ACA, necessary healthcare services (such as: hospital stays, primary care, specialty care, maternity care, mental health care, lab work, and substance abuse treatments) were available to all. The implementation of the ACA effectively declared that no person should ever be denied the right and access to essential health care.
The State of the DC Health Link
And so with the ACA came the DC Health Link. Hundreds-of-thousands of individuals, families, and small businesses flocked to use the impressive services offered by the DC Health Link. The DC Health Link suddenly offered customers comprehensive coverage choices, a service so effective that members of congress and congressional staff used the DC Health Link to select their health care coverage, along with President Obama. Since then, the DC Health Link’s marketplace has offered 151 plans to small businesses, 20 of which are offered through Kaiser Permanente and CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Sheild that are HMO-compatible, HSA-compatible, and PPO-compatible. With the DC Health Link, small businesses can offer a range of plan choices previously reserved for large businesses. The DC Health Link has always been about protecting and providing important information to customers to ease the health care planning process.
Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, 96% of DC’s residents have health care coverage. Since the launch of the DC Health Link, more than 300,000 people used the DC Health Link to enroll in health care coverage–in fact, on February 12th of this year that number was totalled to 307,478 customers who continue to seek coverage and renew coverage through the DC Health Link. Because of this thorough accessibility to health care, the District and surrounding areas have seen a surge in happier and healthier workers, students, and residents. When our citizens are happy and healthy, our country is prosperous.
The overwhelmingly positive influence of the ACA and the DC Health link is why the DC Health Link is continuing in full-stride, unflinching, into 2017 and beyond, despite the current turmoil surrounding the potential repeal/replacement of the ACA. The DC Health Link recognizes that the death of the ACA would endanger citizens and burden the country as a whole. So the DC Health Link will continue to advocate for individuals, families, and small businesses by standing their ground and continuing to offer services as though it were business-as-usual. By offering improved services and expansions, the DC Health Link will continue to provide streamlined, efficient functions to all of its customers.
In 2017, the DC Health Link will…
Improve Efficiency by Switching to the Cloud
By hosting services through the cloud, the DC Health Link will be able to easily apply continuous updates and improvements without hindering or slowing services. This means the site will experience nearly no downtime, remaining accessible to customers regardless of the expansions being implemented.
Upgrade Plan Match Services
The Plan Match services tool allows customers to compare and contrast plans based on out-of-pocket estimates. With Plan Match customers can view the plans their doctors participate in, which plans cover their medications, and the co-pay amounts associated with each plan. Last year, pharmacy-lookup was added to the tool and a spanish language version was implemented. This year, the services provided by Plan Match will be extended to small business marketplace customers.
Improve Account Management
The DC Health Link is implementing a new password-reset process that does not force customers to call the service number to have their password reset. Now, when a password-reset is pursued, the customer will be emailed a secure link so passwords can be personally changed. New customers and returning customers will also find a more streamlined process of password creation, making it easier for customers to meet the complex security requirements.
Offer More Effective Tools for Employers
Employers can now view past invoices and present invoices on their account, as well as share invoices with brokers and General Agencies. Employers can also review the current enrollments of employees, as well as their enrollment history and enrollment preferences for the upcoming year. In response to consumer feedback, the DC Health Link has also streamlined and reorganized the presentation of information on the site. By getting rid of confusing layouts and cluttered information, the new presentation emphasizes important and relevant information. Also, employers can now send flash notices to employees when they are logged onto the DC Health Link, giving employers a quick opportunity to communicate deadlines or incomplete applications.
2017 Heralds Impressive Additions to DC Health Link’s Mobile Functionality
To further emphasis that the DC Health Link won’t back down, even when faced with the ACA’s possible demise, the DC Health Link is rolling-out several impressive additions and expansions to their current app this year. In the first half of 2017, we will see new apps for brokers and employers that offers instant viewing of renewal deadlines, enrollment information, and participation rates, as well as review plan information, employee rosters, and coverage costs by month. In the second half of 2017, the same comprehensive functions will be offered to individuals and employees of small businesses. This year, we will also see a new tool for brokers that offers multiple side-by-side comparisons that can be presented to employers–once the employer has reviewed the comparisons and made a selection, the employer can simply select their preference and their DC Health Link account will be automatically updated.
The DC Health Link Beyond 2017
What’s next for the DC Health Link, once 2017 has come and gone? Well, they’re taking 2017 by the horns, so we can expect 2018 to be even more impressive. This year, the DC Health Link is conducting extensive user testing to best understand how users shop for information, and detect patterns in the way users gather information–with these findings, the DC Health Link will be able to better streamline the way information is presented on the site to more efficiently relay information to customers. This year, the DC Health Link is also compiling a nationwide doctor directory in order to connect customers to health plans with national networks–this will be especially beneficial to businesses who have workers out-of-state. On the near horizon, is a self-service billing function and self-service payment function, which will enable employers to establish one-time payments or recurring payments with DC Health Link.