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Libraries and the Health Insurance Marketplace

I attended WebJunction’s webinar today, “Libraries and Health Insurance: Preparing for October 1.” The webinar provided guidance for libraries to support the public to access the Health Insurance Marketplace. The recording of the webinar is available on the site: http://oc.lc/eHealth.

About the Health Insurance Marketplace

On October 1, 2013, the public can access the CMS to enroll in affordable health insurance. The Health Insurance Marketplace is part of the Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed into law in March 2010. The ACA makes preventive care more accessible and affordable for many Americans. Some provisions are already in place, and others will be rolled out in coming years. The deadline to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace is March 31, 2014. CItizens not enrolled by the end of March 2013 have to pay a fee and pay for all of their care. The public is encouraged to use http://healthcare.gov to apply for health insurance.

How Your Library Can Help

Libraries are in a unique position to help the public access the Health Insurance Marketplace and refer patrons to resources. Essential resources that libraries need to know about include the HealthCare.gov site, Navigators and Certified Application Counselors, and the toll-free call center at (800) 318-2596. The toll-free call center is available 24/7 and offers help in English, Spanish, and 150 additional languages. The Navigator program is a federally facilitated and state partnership which certifies Navigators to raise awareness of the Health Insurance Marketplace and help people apply. Navigators are required to take web training, ongoing training, and get recertified annually. Libraries are encouraged to offer programs for the public with Navigators and Certified Application Counselors. A hospital librarian shared with me that she is interested to become a Certified Application Counselor.

New England and State Marketplaces

In New England, some states participate in the federally facilitated marketplace, and others have state marketplaces. The Health Insurance Marketplace helps the public learn how to get insurance in each state. Maine and Rhode Island will use the http://healthcare.gov site to enroll, compare coverage and apply for plans. Other New England states have state marketplaces:

• Connecticut: Access Health CT
• Massachusetts: Health Connector
• Vermont: Vermont Health Connect
• Rhode Island: Health Source RI

The IMLS/CMS Collaboration

The IMLS is partnering withCMS to help librarians support the public to access the Health Insurance Marketplace. Librarians play a vital role in bridging the digital divide. CMS is encouraging librarians to refer patrons to http://healthcare.gov. Though, paper forms are also available, and the public can also apply via the call-center. Librarians and the public are encouraged to sign up for Marketplace emails and alerts on http://healthcare.gov.

The steps to use the Marketplace include:
1) Create an account.
2) Apply. Open enrollment starts October 1 , 2013 and ends March 31, 2014
3) Pick a plan.
4) Enroll. Coverage starts as soon as January 1, 2014

WebJunction, through a cooperative agreement with IMLS, and the Zero Divide Partnership will be engaging with the state libraries and public libraries to increase the capacity of libraries to help the public with the Affordable Care Act and requests for health information and assistance. Libraries decision how to help is a local decision. At WebJunction’s webinar today, they a public library’s plan to offer an educational event with the local hospital. This is the ideal opportunity for a hospital library/public library partnership.

Essential Affordable Care Act Resources for Librarians:

Health Insurance MarketPlace: a new way to get affordable coverage, includes information for individual and families and small businesses. Answer questions to learn if you qualify for lower costs.

OCLC WebJunction eHealth, a Collaboration between WebJunction and Zero Divide to support library capacity to respond to patron health information requests. The site includes ways to get involved including: reviewing the http://healthcare.gov site; identifying a staff member to champion library-related resources that support health information at your library, and keep staff informed of new information as it becomes available. Libraries are encouraged to make local decisions regarding support for the ACA. WebJunction wants to hear from you. You can sign up on the site to get involved. They want to know if your library already has plans to support ACA needs? What resources would your library like to see to support these information needs? Are there local or statewide partners that you would recommend to others?

MedlinePlus, Health Insurance Health Topic: the NLM’s health information site for patients and families includes many resources about the Affordable Care Act and Health Insurance Marketplace.

Source: WebJunction, July 26, 2013 Webinar

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