What District of Columbia Residents Need to Know About Obamacare for 2024


Essential facts about the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) in Washington D.C., including whether you must get health insurance, how much it costs, and how you can save money.



Washington D.C. open enrollment for 2023 health insurance plans runs from November 1, 2023 until January 31, 2024.

This website provides information about getting health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including:

To begin, keep in mind these key points about health insurance in Washington D.C.:

1. District of Columbia law requires you to have health insurance.

The federal tax penalty for going without health insurance ended in 2019. But the District passed a law to take its place. The health insurance mandate, called the Individual Responsibility Requirement, requires D.C. residents to have health insurance that meets the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, get an exemption, or pay a penalty when they file D.C. taxes.

To learn more about the D.C. insurance requirement and find out whether you qualify for an exemption, see Do I Have to Get Health Insurance in Washington D.C.?

2. Open enrollment for 2024 health insurance plans runs from Tuesday, November 1, 2023 through Tuesday, January 31, 2024.

Washington D.C. residents can sign up for 2024 health coverage from November 1, 2023 to January 31, 2024. For most people, if you enroll by December 15, your coverage will begin on January 1, 2024. If you enroll after December 15, your coverage will start on February 1.

Once open enrollment ends for 2024, you won't be able to get health insurance through DC Health Link until open enrollment for 2025 begins next fall, unless you qualify for an exception or your income is low enough for Medicaid.

If you’ve lost your job or significant income in the past 60 days, you might qualify for a special enrollment period (SEP). A SEP allows you to sign up for a new health insurance plan or change your current one outside the open enrollment window.

In addition to job or income loss, many other qualifying events may make you eligible for a SEP. To learn more, see What Happens If I Missed the Washington D.C. Obamacare Enrollment Deadline?

 3. You may qualify for new Affordable Care Act subsidies.

In 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The law provided $1.9 trillion of federal aid to Americans struggling with the COVID-19 crisis, including additional premium subsidies for those who purchase health insurance through DC Health Link. In 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act extended these more generous subsidies through 2025. Here’s a quick summary of the types of available subsidies.

Federal tax credits. Under ARPA, no one will have to pay more than 8.5% of their household income for a mid-level plan purchased from DC Health Link. Technically, the subsidies are tax credits, but you can choose to have them automatically deducted from the cost of your monthly premiums.

Cost-sharing subsidies. More than half of the people who purchase coverage through DC Health Link receive assistance through cost-sharing reductions (CSRs). CSRs automatically reduce your premiums and lower your costs when you use your insurance benefits—for example, when you go to the doctor, get lab work, or have to stay in the hospital.

CSRs are available to people who make between 100% and 250% of the federal poverty level. (For 2023 health plans, that means a family of four in Washington D.C. can't earn more than $75,000 and an individual not more than $36,450.) But these benefits are available only on silver plans. If you think you may qualify, look carefully at the costs for silver plans available at DC Health Link while shopping for coverage.

Medicaid. You may qualify for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid in Washington D.C. if your income is very low.

All subsidies will be automatically calculated when you apply for a plan through DC Health Link.

For more information, see Ways to Save Money on Obamacare in Washington D.C..

4. Average premium rates may go up, but that doesn't mean everyone is paying more.

Costs vary from insurer to insurer and plan to plan. Also, if premiums for the benchmark plan (the plan used to determine subsidy amounts) go up, subsidies also go up. This is a long way to say don't let the numbers get you down. Comparison shop at DC Health Link to find the plans and subsidies available to you.

5. The District of Columbia has banned the sale of "short-term insurance plans" lasting more than three months.

In 2018, the Trump administration made it easier to purchase short-term insurance plans. These plans don't have to cover preexisting conditions or the essential health benefits provided by Obamacare plans. The new federal rules say that short-term plans can last for as long as three years. But D.C. placed its own limits on the expansion of short-term plans. Under District law, insurers may not sell short-term plans lasting longer than three months, without renewals. As a result, most insurers in the District have stopped selling short-term plans.

6. You can get help signing up if you need it.

The Biden administration has greatly increased enrollment assistance, making it much easier to get the information you need to get covered. To connect with local support resources, see How To Sign Up for Obamacare in Washington D.C..


Jurisdictional relevance: ST

There are versions of this article for each State.

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