Members of Congress and staffers who have had trouble completing their enrollment in DC Health Link received a dose of hope as they headed into the weekend.
Though the open enrollment season closes Dec. 9, those who can prove they tried to enroll in the District’s insurance exchange by that date, but were unsuccessful in completing the process, will get another chance to do so before coverage from the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program runs out.
Under Office of Personnel Management regulations, employing offices can facilitate “post-Open Season enrollments for individuals who are not able to enroll for reasons beyond their control,” according to a email sent to Senate staffers Friday afternoon that was obtained by CQ Roll Call.
The House blasted out similar information a few hours later.
The news arrived one day after DC Health Link experienced a system-wide outage that crashed the site for about an hour.
Members and staff who took steps to enroll, but could not complete the process and receive confirmation, will have seven days, from Dec. 10 through Dec. 16, to notify administrative offices.
“If at that time your enrollment cannot be confirmed, you will be provided with an opportunity to enroll through the [DC Health Link] website after December 9th, with a January 1, 2014 effective date of coverage,” according to the Senate email.
The notice also provided some peace of mind for those staffers who think they have signed up for coverage but do not know for sure if their request went through. D.C. staffers were advised that they could pick up paper copies of their confirmation details from Capitol Hill offices, or request an email copy if they work for the House. In the Senate, only state staffers could request an email copy of confirmation.
For the House, the solution to online glitches and error messages is pen and paper. The email from House Chief Administrative Officer Dan Strodel included an attached document.
“In the meantime, and effective immediately, you may also submit the attached form to the CAO to document your enrollment intentions,” the email stated.
The form includes a checked box next to the statement: “Because of website problems, I was unable to enroll in employer provided health insurance via DC Health Link. The information below captures my enrollment preferences.”
House staffers have until 5 p.m. on Dec. 16 to contact the Office of Payroll and Benefits.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.