Affordable Care Act (ACA) Resources
What is the Affordable Care Act?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), frequently referred to as Obamacare, was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 23, 2010. The initial enrollment period was October 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014. Individuals who enrolled and have plans can make changes or keep their current plan by going to HealthCare.gov.
A brief outline of each Title (or section), as well as the full text of the ACA can be found at The Affordable Care Act, Section by Section from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Next Open Enrollment Period
The next open enrollment period will be November 1, 2015 - January 31, 2016 for coverage beginning as early as January 1, 2016.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has created the 5 Steps to Staying Covered:
- If a consumer wants to keep their same coverage, the consumer will need to come back to the Marketplace and update their information and select a plan by December 15, 2014, in order for coverage to go into effect on January 1, 2015.
- If a consumer selects a plan between December 16, 2014 and January 15, 2015, the new plan will be effective February 1, 2015.
- If a consumer selects a plan between January 16, 2015 and February 15, 2015, the new plan will be effective March 1, 2015.
What is the role of libraries in the Affordable Care Act?
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) has partnered with several government agencies regarding the role of the NLM, and each of the eight Regional Medical Libraries (RMLs) has been working with their state libraries to provide information.
More information about the ACA and the Role of Libraries is available from the American Library Association (ALA). Information and resources related to how public libraries are responding to health information needs, and, in particular, needs related to the ACA may be found on the Health Happens in Libraries page of the OCLC WebJunction website.
Libraries and information providers are encouraged to link users to information provided by HealthCare.gov. HealthCare.gov has created several widgets and badges in English and Spanish to quickly link website visitors to additional information. Code for the widgets and badges is provided and can quickly be added to already existing websites.
American Library Association Publishing has recently released a guide written specifically for library staff, Libraries and the Affordable Care Act: Helping the Community Understand Health-Care Options. This brief guide (89 pages) is meant to offer best practices, advice and examples of library responses from the first open enrollment period, with particular emphasis on public libraries.
HealthCare.gov, and the Spanish version of the site CuidadoDeSalud.gov, continue to be the “go to” websites for information about the ACA. The website has undergone a number of updates, upgrades and software improvements to improve the performance of the site. Open enrollment for coverage beginning as early as January 1, 2016 is November 1, 2015 – January 31, 2016. A toll free call center continues to be available 24/7(1-800-318-2596 or 1-855-889-4325 TTY/TDD) except on major holidays.
Once Open Enrollment begins every year, the application for new HealthCare.gov consumers will be simpler, faster, and more intuitive.
- It’s simpler. The consumer now enters information only once. The system now saves data as the consumer moves through the application.
- It’s faster. Depending on the specific situation, the new application could reduce the number of screens by more than 75%, with fewer clicks to navigate through the questions.
- It’s intuitive for users. The new application is more user-friendly with simpler navigation and built-in help along the way.
- From Coverage to Care
From Coverage to Care is an initiative designed to help people with new health care coverage understand their benefits and connect to primary care and the preventive services that are right for them, so they can live a long and healthy life. From Coverage to Care has written resources and videos which can be printed or ordered to assist patrons.
HealthCare.gov and the Spanish version CuidadoDeSalud.gov are the primary websites for information about the ACA. A toll free call center is available 24/7(1-800-318-2596 or 1-855-889-4325 TTY/TDD). Operators can provide educational information and enrollment assistance in more than 150 different languages.
The Get Insurance tab of the Healthcare.gov site provides customized information on the Health Insurance Marketplace for individuals and families as well as small business owners. The site enables visitors to complete an application and see various plan options.
LocalHelp.healthcare.gov allows individuals or organizations to enter their geographic location to identify local ACA consumer assistance destinations in their area. This resource is also available in Spanish.
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
CMS has been designated as the HHS division responsible for the rollout of the ACA.
The site contains Forms, tools, etc. on the Health Insurance Marketplace including application forms for individuals and families. Training materials for navigators, agents, brokers, and other assisters can also be found on this site. 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 using an online ordering system. 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.
- MedlinePlus.gov from the National Library of Medicine
MedlinePlus has a Health Topics page devoted to all matters relevant to Health Insurance, including many items related to the ACA.
- US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Healthcare.gov is a website created and maintained by HHS, but additional resources can also be found on the Affordable Care Act section of the website. This site includes information about the Affordable Care Act, the Health Insurance Marketplace, personal stories from Americans who now have health insurance, and more.
- OCLC WebJunction
WebJunction is working to provide information to the library community regarding opportunities and resources to connect patrons to health and wellness information. Additional information about ongoing efforts by WebJunction can be found via the eHealth page. Recordings of webinars related to ACA topics can also be found in the WebJunction Event Archive.
To stay informed on updates visit the Get Involved section of the eHealth webpage and sign up for updates.
Office of Minority Health (Dept. of Health and Human Services)
The Office of Minority Health has a number of specific resources targeted to racial and ethnic minority populations, including extensive information on the Affordable Care Act. Also, My Coverage, My Care is a toolkit which includes resources for learning more about health insurance coverage for individuals who are newly enrolled in plans
- Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
The Topic Page on Health Reform has a lot of information regarding the ACA and health reform in general. Facts and figures related to the ACA as well as perspective from a variety of individuals are included on the site.
- Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM)
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has released several discussion papers related to the ACA including the following:
- American Public Health Association (APHA)
The Health Reform Topics and Issues page on the APHA website has several resources related to the ACA and public health initiatives.
- Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center (RHTAC)
RHTAC provides information on the benefits and protections in the ACA as they apply specifically to individuals residing in the U.S. who meet the definition of refugees. A summary for refugees of the information outlines provisions for this group. This resource also includes videos in English, Arabic, Karen, Kinyarwarda, Nepali, and Somali, as well as ACA briefs in multiple languages.
Resources from the South Central Region
The TMC Library's LibGuide to the ACA.
For questions contact Adela Justice, NN/LM SCR Consumer Health Coordinator
713-799-7880 (or 800-338-7657 in AR, LA, NM, OK, TX)