Dylan Roby, Ph.D., Director of the health economics and evaluation research program at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, and an assistant professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, is quoted widely by the media regarding various aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Coverage included October 30 on the PBS program SoCal Insider and November 14 on KNX 1070AM about enrollment in new insurance plans; November 17 in Kaiser Health News about misinformation sent to California’s low-income residents regarding Medi-Cal; November 15 in the Orange County Register about whether California will go along with President Obama’s suggested “fix” for people whose policies were cancelled; November 17 in the Los Angeles Times about California’s healthcare exchange; November 18 in California Healthline.com about how the state’s various counties must adapt to the ACA; and a November 18 WebMD article about the renewal of private health insurance policies initially canceled.
Archive for the ‘Affordable Care Act’ Category
- Resources produced as part of WebJunction’s work to support libraries in their efforts to provide eHealth services to their communities
- Official Affordable Care Act (ACA) resources for all states
- Examples of resources created by libraries to respond to patron ACA and eHealth inquiries
Health information support happens in libraries every day, and you are encouraged to submit stories or perspectives to share your library’s role in supporting community health and wellness by contacting email@example.com. Here are a few questions to address:
- What programs or resources does your library provide to support health and wellness in your community? How do patrons and/or community partners benefit from these services?
- In what ways has your library been involved in supporting patrons with ACA application and enrollment activities? What are you learning from responding to this new information need?
Share your experiences with colleagues in the field!
NN/LM PSR Consumer Health & Technology Coordinator Kelli Ham attended an event hosted by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) on October 15, 2013, for stakeholders involved with the Affordable Care Act. The four-hour session was titled A New Era of Coverage: Maximizing Participation in the ACA and was held at the California Endowment in Los Angeles. Attendees included county agencies, certified enrollment counselors, outreach and education grantee organizations, health plans, and insurance companies.
The session was well worth attending! I was able to hear first-hand about ‘boots on the ground’ efforts to educate California residents about the new health insurance law and to help them sign up for accounts, learn about their options, and enroll in a health insurance plan. In addition, we all participated in a group activity in the afternoon which was a very productive exercise; groups responded to questions and brainstormed ideas for outreach to “hard-to-reach” communities, such as immigrants, limited-English proficient, homeless/re-entry populations, and low wage/part-time workers. Groups discussed the barriers and strategies for reaching the population and enrolling them in health coverage. Potential partner organizations and agencies were also identified.
The results of this activity were enlightening; while each group suggested standard approaches, many ideas were proposed that would work well for outreach from the NN/LM standpoint. For instance, our group chose ‘Young Immigrants’ as our target population. Some of the barriers identified for this group were the distrust of government agencies, immigration status and fear of deportation, lack of perceived need for health insurance (young invincibles), and language difficulties. Strategies for reaching this population included the use of social media, mobile apps, tables at street fairs, outreach at clubs, ads on public transportation (bus, Metro), adult schools, and ESL classes. Word of mouth is also powerful, so recruiting young people from this group is another strategy. Possible partnering organizations would be non-profits that deal with undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children, other legal organizations, local clinics, and Planned Parenthood, to name a few.
Since the Covered California website had only been up and running for a few weeks, few statistics were available. According to one of the presenters, the website had over 987,000 unique visits during the first week. Combining telephone contacts and the web site, there were over 43,000 applications and over 16,000 household applications were completed. More statistics will be released in the near future.
Anyone who is interested in attending local workshops or presentations can see announcements on the Covered California Twitter feed, @coveredca, or view news and upcoming events at the Covered California News Center page. Libraries might be interested in hosting a program with outreach and education counselors; the best way to find local grantee organizations is to download the updated PDF file Outreach and Education Grant Program Award Recipients, dated August 20, 2013. Also, library patrons might be interested in applying by phone rather than the website. According to Covered California, it takes less than an hour to enroll in a Covered California health plan by phone. Service centers are open weekdays 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. – 6 p.m, available at 800-300-1506.
WebJunction recently updated its website to help library staff connect patrons to available resources and community experts that can provide assistance:
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has soft launched LocalHelp.healthcare.gov, where individuals or organizations can enter their geographic location to identify local ACA consumer assistance destinations in their area. Local consumer assisters, including Navigators, Certified Application counselors, etc., can provide personal help in applying for healthcare coverage through the ACA. This resource is also available in Spanish. CMS has also made English and Spanish widgets available for those that may be interested in hosting this resource as a widget on their website.
- Please be advised that, according to CMS, many consumer assistance organizations are still completing the training and certification process. The database will be regularly updated to add new locations as they become available, so check back frequently. Please also note that states operating independent health insurance marketplaces may have more details about customer support networks at their state’s individual marketplace site. Unsure what type of marketplace is operating in your state? Visit the Get State Information page on HealthCare.gov to determine your state’s approach and access the most relevant source for local marketplace information.
Printed Publications and Forms
- If your state is participating in the Federally-facilitated Marketplace, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has an online ordering system for print materials. Libraries are welcome to request these print materials from CMS, however, it is important to note that quantities are limited and stock is constantly changing. You will need to create an account to be able to view and order materials. Once you have an account, search on the keyword “marketplace” to see the available publications.
- In the near future, CMS expects to add an option to order and/or download print versions of the Federal Application form (not available until open enrollment begins on October 1). While print forms will be an option, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply online because they will see real-time eligibility and available health insurance options.
To take advantage of the new, online Health Insurance Marketplace, millions of uninsured Americans need to know about it and sign up. Help is needed from the public and private sectors to let people know about these new benefits and get them enrolled. Starting in October 2013, Americans who don’t have insurance can choose from quality, affordable health insurance plans in the Marketplace for coverage that begins in 2014. A growing number of national and state/local organizations have joined the ranks of “Champions for Coverage” and are assisting in the effort to make sure all Americans can get the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford.
Ways your organization can be a Champion for Coverage
- Send your partners/members/customers to the official consumer sources to learn about the Marketplace and get coverage:
- Send an email to your network about the Marketplace.
- Post the HealthCare.gov and/or CuidadoDeSalud.gov widget on your website.
- Hang posters and/or give out fact sheets and brochures about the Marketplace.
- Host a conference call, webinar, or another educational event about the Marketplace.
- Include a story about the Marketplace in your organizational newsletter or other publication.
- Record and send out a public service announcement about the Marketplace.
- Have your staff/members learn about the Marketplace in educational sessions.
- Connect with your partners/members/customers through official Marketplace social media channels to share their stories:
- Provide space for enrollment sessions or fairs (ideally, with computers so people can check out the Marketplace online).
How can my organization become a “Champion for Coverage?
First, take action – post the Marketplace widget, send an email message, or more. If you’re interested in being publically recognized as an official “Champion for Coverage,” fill out the online form. You will be contacted for additional follow-up. If you have questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Maternal and Child Health Library at Georgetown University recently posted on its website two new resource briefs to help answer questions from professionals and families about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Resources for Professionals directs readers to a selection of resources about the ACA and its major provisions, policy developments, and implementation efforts. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Resources for Families provides information about the ACA and how it will affect families in each state. The resource briefs were developed by the University of Miami Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND), the University of South Florida College of Public Health MCH Leadership Training Program, the University of Florida Pediatric Pulmonary Center (PPC) Leadership Training Program, and the MCH Library at Georgetown University, all of which are funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB).
Young Invincibles and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have created a competition that will tap into the creativity and energy of young Americans while raising awareness about the new Health Care Law and encouraging young people to take advantage of the benefits of health insurance. There’s a prize pool worth up to $30,000 and over 100 prizes to be won. Cash prizes will be awarded to the creators of the best videos in three distinct categories; so whether you’ve got a talent for short films, writing a great song, or designing an entertaining video infographic, you can be a winner!
Submit your video on the official Healthy Young America website by September 23, 2013. A public voting period will follow to help determine the Finalists in each category, and a final round of voting and judging will determine who takes home the Grand Prize.
Californians can now see specific rates from competing health plans on a new state-run insurance market set to open October 1. Covered California, the new state marketplace, recently launched an online feature enabling consumers to get detailed price comparisons for their area for the first time. Previously, the state’s online calculator gave general estimates of statewide premiums without any comparison of different plans and prices. Starting in January, health insurance premiums will be based on a person’s age and location. Separately, federal subsidies are available to help pay premiums based on household income and size under the Affordable Care Act. Insurers on the state exchange will sell four different levels of coverage labeled as Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Bronze is the lowest cost option because it offers the least amount of insurance coverage toward a person’s medical bills. Coverage increases from there up to the most expensive Platinum plans. Individuals earning less than $46,000 a year and families below $94,000 annually may qualify for subsidies. In California, individuals earning less than $16,000 can get coverage through an expansion of Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program for the poor.
The Obama Administration has announced the launching of Business.USA.gov/healthcare, a one-stop-shop website which provides employers of all sizes with educational materials on how the Affordable Care Act may affect businesses and help them compete. The site includes a wizard tool that is tailored based on size and location, so businesses can learn how the law helps them provide affordable coverage options to their employees while still meeting their bottom line. The site will act as a user-friendly hub that connects employers to informational content on tax credits and other provisions of the law from the Small Business Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury Department. As part of the Administration’s ongoing dialogue with leaders of our nation’s top businesses, this latest tool will help ensure that employers of all sizes know what the Affordable Care Act means for them, and have the information they need to take advantage of the new benefits and opportunities under the law. The Administration will work with the employer community to ensure the site continues to be a helpful resource for businesses and their employees, including updating the site with additional, timely information.
Many parts of the Affordable Care Act are already in effect, including new consumer protections, and improvements to health care coverage, that ensure consumers get more value for their premium dollars. Additional benefits will take effect in late 2013 and beyond. Starting October 1, 2013, individuals, including those who are self-employed, and small businesses looking for a better plan, will have a new way to shop for private health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) found at HealthCare.gov. Individuals may be eligible for lower costs on their monthly premiums and self-employed individuals and small businesses may be eligible for tax credits to help with the costs of coverage.
Earlier this month, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced $150 million in grant awards to 1,159 health centers across the nation, to enroll uninsured Americans in new health coverage options made available by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With these funds, health centers are expected to hire an additional 2,900 outreach and eligibility assistance workers to assist millions of people nationwide with enrollment into affordable health coverage. Health centers have a long history of providing eligibility assistance to patients, along with delivering high-quality, primary health care services in communities across the nation. Today, health centers serve more than 21 million patients annually.
Awards have been made to health centers in all 50 states, to help consumers understand their coverage options through the new Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program; determine their eligibility and what financial help they can get; and enroll in new affordable health coverage options. These awards, issued by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), complement and align with other federal efforts, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services-funded Navigator program. A list of health centers receiving this funding is available on the HRSA web site.