As of January 1, 2014, many individuals have gained healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act via the Healthcare.gov website. Since October 1st there has been a constant stream of information and publicity about the continued roll out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka “Obamacare” and the Healthcare.gov website. As individuals began to sign up for coverage last fall, many libraries throughout the country provided assistance to their patrons for the process through a variety of services in their libraries. Before the beginning of open enrollment on October 1, NN/LM SCR staff provided several webinars created to support libraries, and, in particular public libraries, in their efforts with the ACA which reached more than 800 attendees. The NN/LM SCR is now listed as a Champion for Coverage.
Many of the SCR Resource Libraries and their outreach contacts have been on the front lines of providing information to their patrons about these initiatives. Below are some of the ways the NN/LM SCR Resource libraries have provided information regarding the ACA. Advance apologies for any omissions; this information was current based on available information at this time.
LSU Health Sciences Center Medical Library, Shreveport, LA (via Donna Timm): added information to their Healthelinks home page.
University of New Mexico Health Sciences Library and Information Center, Albuquerque, NM: created a LibGuide on the library website, “Affordable Care Act.”
University of Texas Health Sciences Center Libraries, San Antonio, TX (via Peg Seger): engaged in a large initiative supporting an on-campus Champions for Coverage student effort. The library discussed the ACA at their Community Advisors meeting in November. Several documents were created for use in promotion of the libraries as resources for ACA-related questions. The San Antonio Public Library has provided several locations with onsite navigators for enrollment assistance and has a page on their website devoted to ACA materials.
UT Southwestern Library, Dallas, TX: John Fullinwider (former outreach contact) provided a series of programs on the ACA to small town and rural public libraries in their service area, and also provided a Roundtable discussion at the SCC/MLA annual meeting in October on these efforts.
UTMB Health Moody Medical Library, Galveston, TX: created a LibGuide on the library website, “Affordable Care Act & Health Care Reform.”
For a recent summary of the status of the ACA roll out and what the new year will bring, see the article from the January edition of The Nation’s Health: “Affordable Care Act brings new benefits as marketplace enrollment progresses: Reform advancing.”
For more information on resources related to the ACA, visit the NN/LM SCR webpage.
According to The Diagnosis Difference, a new report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, “many people with serious health concerns take their health decisions seriously—and are seriously social about gathering and sharing information, both online and offline.” While the report shows that adults with chronic conditions are often less likely to be online, the report also shows that when adults with chronic conditions do go online they engage in social networks and health outlets to gather and share health information.
According to the report “internet users living with one or more conditions are more likely than other online adults to:
Gather information online about medical problems, treatments, and drugs.
Consult online reviews about drugs and other treatments.
Read or watch something online about someone else’s personal health experience.”
Libraries can have an impact for online health seekers. According to the report “30% of online health information seekers living with chronic conditions were asked to pay for something they wanted to access online.” When met with a pay wall, only 2% reported paying the fee to access full content. 17% gave up trying to access the content. The remaining information seekers attempted to find the same information elsewhere for free.
While adults with chronic conditions are gathering health information online, they are also more likely than others to talk with a clinician about what they find. For adults with chronic conditions, clinicians are the central source of information, but support groups, friends, and family also play an important role. According to the report “having a chronic condition significantly increases the likelihood someone got information or support from a doctor or health care professional, friends or family, or others with the same health condition.”
The report also demonstrates that individuals living with chronic conditions are “significantly more likely than other adults to track weight, diet, exercise, or health indicators like blood pressure, blood sugar, sleep patterns, or headaches.”
Adults living with chronic conditions who take their illness seriously are able to research and share information through online and face-to-face methods. This group has different health information seeking behaviors which set them apart from others. The video provides an brief summary of the report findings.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Healthcare.gov website continue to be much in the news, and several important updates have taken place recently. The Healthcare.gov website has undergone a number of updates related to the numerous technical problems previously encountered, and the site now has a new look. Three options are immediately presented to visitors to the site: See Plans Before I Apply; See If I Can Get Lower Costs; and Apply Now for Health Coverage. The deadline for coverage beginning January 1, 2014 has also been extended to December 23, 2013.
Regular scheduled maintenance to the site has provided software improvements and hardware upgrades such that “90 percent of users are now able to create accounts” (Health Insurance Marketplace update Nov. 27, 2013). In addition to online enrollment, there are still three other options available: via the Marketplace Call Center (1-800-318-2596), completion of a paper application form submitted via mail, and speaking in person to a trained counselor via LocalHelp.Healthcare.gov .
Organizations identified as Champions for Coverage continue to be added to the growing list, and the NN/LM SCR is now identified as a Champion for Coverage.
Hard copies of materials to distribute throughout enrollment are available at no cost from CMS in limited quantities for order. If you are interested in ordering products, visit: http://productordering.cms.hhs.gov to set up an account to order. However, materials are also available for free to download and print as many as needed.
It’s that time of year again! Cooking meals for friends and family is one of the best parts of the holidays–be sure you know how to do it safely.
The four biggest health issues when preparing a turkey include:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in a microwave oven. It’s also important to be aware that turkeys must be thawed at a safe temperature; between 40 and 140°F is when foodborne bacteria multiply the fastest!
As always, be mindful that preparing raw poultry includes the risk of spreading bacteria. Preparation areas (including hands, utensils, and work surfaces) should always be thoroughly cleaned before and after working with the turkey!
From the CDC: “For optimal safety and uniform doneness, cook the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole dish. ” If you decide to cook your stuffing inside the turkey, however, use a food thermometer to make sure it’s been cooked to a safe temperature.
When cooking a turkey, be sure that you use a food thermometer to guarantee that it’s been cooked thoroughly and to a safe temperature (minimum internal temperature of 165°F) . If you are unfamiliar with using a food thermometer, get familiar with them here and learn to calibrate thermometers that haven’t been used in a while.
For more information on food preparation safety, visit the following resources.
Last week, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) released an enhancement to MedlinePlus Connect.
With the enhancement, MedlinePlus Connect will respond to SNOMED CT codes with information from both MedlinePlus and NLM’s Genetics Home Reference (GHR) web site. GHR is the NLM’s web site for consumer information about genetic conditions and the genes or chromosomes related to those conditions. This feature is available exclusively for English SNOMED CT requests. The GHR information will be available using either the MedlinePlus Connect web application or web service.
October 1-31st is Health Literacy Month! Did you know health literacy goes beyond the ability to read (although reading does play a large role)? Health literacy is the ability to get the health information you need, and to understand it. It is also about using the information to make good decisions about your health and medical care.
Here are some great resources that address health literacy!
This health topic page from MedlinePlus, a National Library of Medicine resource, not only gives a clear overview of health literacy but also does a nice job of breaking down some of the more specific issues that individuals face. MedlinePlus offers links to tutorials such as “Understanding Medical Words”, “Creating Easy-to-Read Materials”, and deciphering prescription drug labels.
The NN/LM page on health literacy takes the basic information from MedlinePlus one step further. In addition to providing a clear and basic definition, this resource also gives users some statistics regarding the specific populations most affected by low health literacy. Information on research and initiatives being done to improve health literacy is also provided.
From the Health Literacy Out Loud website: “Health Literacy Out Loud(HLOL) podcastsare a lot like radio shows. You can listen in as Helen Osborne interviews those in-the-know about health literacy. You will hear why health literacy matters and learn practical ways to help. Unlike radio shows, you access Health Literacy Out Loud podcasts from the Internet. You simply download the files to a computer, iPod, or other MP3 device and then listen to the podcast whenever, wherever, and however you want.”
The wait is over, and the Open Enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace begins today, October 1, 2013.
Individuals can now go to Healthcare.gov and see the various health coverage options available to them in the Marketplace. The Marketplace is designed to allow individuals to compare coverage, costs and benefits of plans available to them. Coverage begins as soon as January 1, 2014.
Questions? Call 1-800-318-2596, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY users may call 1-855-889-4325.
Additional information on the Affordable Care Act and other resources of information may be found on the Affordable Care Act Resources page of the NN/LM SCR website.
Guest Author: Susan Barnes, Assistant Director, NN/LM Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC), Health Sciences Libraries and Information Center, University of Washington
The 2nd Edition of the Planning and Evaluating Health Information Outreach Projects series of 3 booklets http://nnlm.gov/evaluation/guides.html#A2 is now available online from the NN/LM Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC).
Getting Started with Community-Based Outreach (Booklet 1) http://nnlm.gov/evaluation/booklets508/bookletOne508.html
What’s new? More emphasis and background on the value of health information outreach, including its relationship to the Healthy People 2020 Health Communication and Health Information Technology topic areas
Collecting and Analyzing Evaluation Data (Booklet 3) http://nnlm.gov/evaluation/booklets508/bookletThree508.html
What’s new? Step-by-step guide to collecting, analyzing, and assessing the validity (or trustworthiness) of quantitative and qualitative data, using questionnaires and interviews as examples.
The Planning and Evaluating Health Information Outreach Projects series, by Cynthia Olney and Susan Barnes, supplements and summarizes material in Cathy Burroughs’ groundbreaking work from 2000, Measuring the Difference: Guide to Planning and Evaluating Health Information Outreach. Printed copies of Burroughs’ book are also available free—just send an email request to email@example.com.
The final countdown to Open Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace has begun! The list of organizations already in place to provide assistance to individuals with the enrollment process continues to grow, and includes Navigators, Certified Application Counselors, Assisters, and Champions for Coverage.
On September 26, OCLC WebJunction announced some updates aimed 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. This resource is also available in Spanish at ayudalocal.cuidadodesalud.gov.
If your state is participating in the Federally-facilitated Marketplace [AR, LA, OK, and TX in the SCR], 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.
Organizations and businesses (including libraries) who reach consumers who may need coverage can become Champions for Coverage to provide information and education to help people learn more about the Marketplace and how they can enroll. For more information, see: Become a Champion for Coverage. A list of organizations – current as of August 28, 2013 – is available.
In addition, several libraries and organizations in the South Central Region have already been identified. A partial list is provided below: