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Public Libraries

What can libraries do about health insurance?

Libraries have a long history of helping people access health information. A study published in 2010, supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that, in one year, 28 million people used a library computer to get health information.

Public libraries are located in nearly every community in the United States and are recognized as a valuable community resource, offering public meeting spaces, computers, expert searching, and allowing for quiet conversations-making them a natural location for trained counselors to provide outreach and education efforts.

Libraries can play a significant role in their communities with opportunities to provide essential information regarding the Affordable Care Act through a variety of services and programs.


What is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Health Insurance Marketplace?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law on March 23, 2010 by President Obama. This landmark legislation allows for greater accessibility for many Americans who previously were unable to afford health care insurance or were declined access due to eligibility requirements.

The Health Insurance Marketplace is where individuals, families, and small businesses can learn about health coverage options, compare insurance plans, select a plan and enroll. Information is also available on programs to help those with low to moderate incomes including ways to save money on monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs through the Marketplace, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).


Health Insurance Resources

Healthcare.gov
Healthcare.gov is your primary resource for information about the Health Insurance Marketplace as well as about the ACA for the consumer and is available in English and Spanish. Consider signing up for email and text updates for reminders and other important information. The blog also offers great information to keep you updated including how to prepare for the next enrollment whether you are new to the Health Insurance Marketplace or are already enrolled.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created Healthcare.gov it also provides information about the ACA law, some facts and features, including a roadmap to health and better care that explains what health coverage is and how to use it. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has been designated as the HHS division responsible for the rollout of ACA. CMS provides information about the initiative, From Coverage to Care, to help people understand their insurance benefits once they enroll.

MedlinePlus
MedlinePlus has a topic page on Health Insurance with several links related to the Affordable Care Act as well as handouts in English and Spanish including topics such as understanding health insurance plans and healthcare costs.

Public Library Association
Check out the Public Library Association's Libraries Connecting You to Coverage webpage with a downloadable guide and several resources to better prepare library staff to support patrons as they navigate the enrollment process for health insurance.

My Health, My Voice
My Health, My Voice is the result of a need by newly insured women who were having trouble using their insurance. Though it was developed specifically with women in mind, it works with a diverse audience and is available in Spanish and English, with several print-ready resources. The guide is written in clear, easy-to-read information including 5 Steps to Care, free preventative services, costs, and more when using health insurance. My Health, My Voice is a project of Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need with Parsons The New School for Design and the Ms. Foundation for Women.


Recorded Webinars

NNLM hosted 2 sessions focusing on health insurance in 2019. The recording links are just below the speakers' bios.