Mayor Vincent C. Gray encouraged District residents to purchase health insurance through DCHealthLink.com, in his weekly radio address on Sunday, Oct. 6.
Health-benefit exchanges like DC Health Link are a crucial for implementing the Affordable Care Act, according to Gray.

“They are places where individuals, families and small-business owners can shop for and purchase health-insurance plans that offer rates and benefits comparable to the plans that large employers provide to their workers. In addition, people can use these exchanges to find out if they qualify for subsidies to help them purchase insurance,” said Gray.

All Americans are required under the Affordable Care Act to purchase individual insurance if they are not covered by their employers and do not qualify for federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Exchanges such as DC Health Link make this process easier, Gray said. The D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority manages DC Health Link and is offering free tutorials to learn how to apply for insurance coverage in the next several weeks at libraries and recreation centers.

DC Health Link has the variety of more than 30 insurance plans for families and individuals as well as 267 insurance plans for small-business owners and competitive prices for comprehensive benefits.

“Visitors to DCHealthLink.com can use their rate calculator,” Gray said. “You simply enter the ages of all members of your household and your annual household income. The calculator will tell you how much you would pay for different levels of insurance plans with different benefits — so-called ‘bronze,’ ‘silver’ and ‘gold’level plans. Then you can purchase the coverage you want.”

District residents must apply and pay for insurance by Dec. 15 to be covered beginning Jan. 1.

-Claire Sloan