DC Health Exchange Causing Headaches for Associations, Small Businesses
Small businesses in the District are concerned with the technological flaws and potential cost of the city’s small-business health options program. The DC City Council met last week to discuss the program.
The Council of the District of Columbia’s Committee on Health and Human Services—the group that oversees the city’s Health Benefit Exchange Authority—held a performance oversight hearing last week to gauge how things are going with the District’s healthcare exchange.
Judging by recent news coverage of the project, particularly regarding hiccups with the small-business health options program (SHOP), it hasn’t been a smooth launch. Problems range from the exchange’s website crashing, to major information gaps, to a lack of support from the officials in charge, according to a report by the Washington Business Journal.
On top of those problems, small businesses have expressed concern that DC has banned employers from self-funding health plans for employees, in effect forcing them to use the exchange. And there’s an ongoing legal battle over how the exchange is being funded.
ASAE submitted a statement [PDF] to the committee last week that echoed the concerns raised by the small-business community and urged the council to delay closing down the private marketplace for businesses with 51 to 100 employees.
“ASAE urges you and your fellow councilmembers to delay any changes that could overburden DC Health Link before the technology is ready,” wrote ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE. “Healthcare is an extremely important benefit that our members offer to their employees, and it is imperative that the private marketplace remain open and that this benefit continues to be affordable.”
Over 82 percent of ASAE’s DC-based members are smaller than 50 employees and are required to enter the healthcare exchange program.