By Julie Gallion

(This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on DC Health Insurance Exchange enrollment. Part 2 can be accessed here.)

I recently had the opportunity to enroll a client organization’s staff in the DC Health Insurance Exchange (DC Health Link). Through this process, I learned first-hand of the challenges that most employers will deal with the first time they enroll. Luckily, there are many things you can (and should!) do ahead of time to save yourself some of the hassle. To make it easy, I have laid out the actions you must take and scheduled them by month assuming a January 2015 effective date. You can see the month-by-month timeline in the SlideShare below.

Individuals and small businesses have been fighting since 2010 against health care reform in hopes that the new law would not be implemented.  Now, in 2014, the world of health insurance has been turned upside down particularly with regards to small businesses in Washington, DC.  With the District of Columbia being one of two “states” requiring small businesses to purchase insurance through the Exchange (DCHealthLink), employers have no choice but to become familiar with the process and requirements of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).

You may think you have plenty of time to learn about the Exchange and the changes that will affect small DC based businesses.  However, with the tight and inflexible deadlines required for enrollment in Exchange plans, small businesses that don’t start working on their 2015 open enrollment this summer may be in trouble.   To get ahead of the game and prevent unnecessary headaches, I advise starting now.