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Archive for the ‘Public Health’ Category

Affordable Care Act Discussion Papers

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

As librarians prepare to support the implementation of the HealthCare Marketplace and to refer patrons to Affordable Care Act resources,
I highly recommend reading the following two Discussion Papers and sharing them with your colleagues.

Discussion Paper:

Helping Consumers Understand and Use Health Insurance in 2014, by Kavita Patel, Mallory West, Lyla Hernandez, Victor Wu, Winston Wong, and Ruth Parker, May 29, 2013

This paper explains the basics of health insurance and summarizes changes from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It provides definitions for common health insurance related terms like premium, deductible, and formulary.  This discussion paper is helpful to brush up on your knowledge of public and private insurance and get up-to-date with specific changes with the Affordable Care Act.

This discussion paper explains public insurance programs (Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Department of Veterans Affairs Health Benefits, TRICARE, and the Indian Health Services) and private insurance.  It outlines how the ACA changes Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance.  This paper summarizes important ACA changes to health insurance:

Summary: Public Health Insurance

  • “Some preventative services are now available without co-pays or deductibles for Medicare beneficiaries.
  • The ACA closes the prescription drug donut hole to help Medicare beneficiaries with prescription drug out-of-pocket expenses.
  • The ACA bans Medicare Advantage plans from increasing co-pays and deductibles on certain services.
  • States can choose to expand Medicaid eligibility to everyone under 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • Indian Health Services can offer new services to the Native American population.”

Summary: Private Health Insurance

  • “Easier enrollment for employees.
  • New coverage options for young adults and those with pre-existing conditions.
  • New financial protections.
  • New marketplaces to buy health insurance.
  • New subsidies and tax credits available to low-income individuals and families.”

Buy Health Insuranace or Pay the Tax

After January 1, 2014, all Americans will be required to purchase health insurance.  Americans without coverage will have to pay an additional tax of $95 per adult or 1 % of the individual’s income, whichever is greater. The tax for dependent children without health insurance is half the adult tax.   Exceptions to the tax include: American Indians; undocumented immigrants; incarcerated individuals; people with religious objections; people who have been uninsured less than 3 months; people for whom the lowest-cost health plan would exceed 8 percent of their income; and people whose income is below the tax-filing threshhold.


Discussion Paper:

Amplifying the Voice of the Underserved in the Implementation of the Affordable Care Act, by Kavita Patel, Ruth Parker, Antonia Villarruel, and Winston Wong, June 21, 2013

At the IOM Roundtable on Health Literacy, “a prevailing theme was the importance of the patient voice in the health care delivery system and the need for organizations to adopt programs that consistently incorporate this voice.”  This discussion paper shares the importance of “amplifying the patient voice” and “communicating in ways meaningful to the community about new opportunities to invest in its health, converge at a critical  time in our country’s great test in expanding health care access to all Americans.  For those invested in the sucessful implementation of the ACA, particularly the expansion of health care coverage through the establishment of state health insurance marketplaces and the expansion of Medicare eligibility, work must begin swiftly not only to communicate about coverage options, but also to empower and engage grassroots organizers and communities in the process.”  The paper discusses how complex it is for most Americans to understand and access health insurance.  For persons with low health literacy and limited English proficiency, it is even more challenging.

Communities need to get creative to help the uninsured access the Health Insurance Marketplace.   The ACA provides some funding for CBO’s to support outreach for newly eligible consumers of health insurance under the ACA.  This discussion papers makes note that, “The initial process of enrollment for insurance coverage through the marketplace or via Medicaid is but one step in the empowering those individuals to become informed consumers.”



Libraries and the Health Insurance Marketplace

Friday, July 26th, 2013

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:

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 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 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 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 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

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 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

How Mobile Devices are Transforming Disaster Relief and Public Safety

Thursday, July 18th, 2013
The Brookings Institute has published a document examining how mobile technology assists in the creation of early warning systems, aids in emergency coordination, and improves public communications in times of crisis. The authors advise policymakers to make better use of current mobile technologies and promote future advances to provide first responders and citizens with the tools necessary to save lives during threatening events. Governments and businesses alike should take full advantage of mobile technology to mitigate property damage, inform the public and save lives.

Libraries and Health Insurance: Preparing for October 1

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

[Message forwarded from WebJunction]

For many Americans, libraries are the “go to” places for consumer health information. Open enrollment for the new Health Insurance Marketplace begins on October 1 and libraries will likely see local demand for information. IMLS is working together with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare and with WebJunction and ZeroDivide to provide library staff with the online resources and community contacts they will need to respond to questions about the Marketplace. Please join us to learn more about how your library can increase awareness and involvement around these needs.

This webinar will present the similar information to what was covered during a session at the American Library Association annual conference in June, as well as newly available details. The session will be archived for future viewing if you are unable to attend the live session.

Speakers include:
• Jackie Garner, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
• Susan Hildreth, Institute of Museum and Library Services
• Ruth Holst, National Network of Library of Medicine, Greater Midwest Regional Medical Library
• Kendra Morgan, WebJunction

Start time: 12:00 Eastern
Tweet: #wjwebinar

Register at:

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