Affordable Care Act: Information for the Pacific Northwest Region

Learn about the Health Insurance Marketplace & your new coverage options through Obamacare

The Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment for 2016 begins begins November 1, 2015 and goes through January 31, 2016.

Want to stay informed for reminders and updates? provides three simple ways to to stay connected.

What is the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?

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. 

What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?

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).

What can libraries do?

Libraries have a long history of helping people access health information. A recent study, 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. Below are a few possibilities:

  • Become a Champion of Coverage
  • Provide programs on health literacy and insurance literacy
  • Order the Coverage to Care materials
  • Host an educational program with a Navigator or Certified Application Counselor and then provide space for them to assist patrons on site
  • Provide information and news through your libraries social media and website including written, video, and multi-language options
  • Take note of specific populations in your library community who may have unique issues regarding ACA and the Health Insurance Marketplace provides information in their Get Answers tab
  • Keep updated through RSS feeds, newsletters, blogs and social media from,, state specific websites, ALA, Webjunction's Health Happens in Libraries, and of course check here on the PNR Affordable Care Act website


The American Library Association (ALA) announced, at their 2013 annual conference, a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and WebJunction to prepare libraries and librarians in assisting their patrons as they navigate their way through the Health Insurance Mareketplace.  ALA provides tools for libraries as well as a guide published in 2015 specifically for library staff to offer advice and provide examples of best practices titled, Libraries and the Affordable Care Act: Helping the Community Understand Health-Care Options.  Contact the PNR to borrow a copy. and it's Spanish version, are the websites for information about all things Health Insurance Marketplace as well as about the ACA for the consumer. The blog 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.

The the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created it also provides information about the ACA law, some facts and features, as well as an updated toolkit.

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 has a topic page on Health Insurance with several links related to the Affordable Care Act.

Health Happens in Libraries is a WebJunction program specifically highlighting the key role of public libraries in the health of their communities. ACA information is provided here through news, webinars, and other resources.

Where to go in the Pacific Northwest States

Information for specific populations regarding the Affordable Care Act

Seniors, Americans with Disabilities, Immigrant and Refugeee Populations, LGBTQ Community, Farm and Migrant Workers, Native Americans and Alaska Natives, Veterans

  • AARP covers specific concerns of Seniors regarding the Affordable Care Act and Medicare.
  • and the National Disability Navigator provide helpful information regarding those with disabilities who want information on the Affordable Care Act specific to their needs.
  • EthnoMed addresses both immigrant and refugee Affordable Care Act information in various languages and including information specific to Washington state.
  • Family Equity Council provides key information regarding the rights of the LGBTQ community specific to the Affordable Care Act.
  • Farm Worker Justice and Migrant Clinician address various aspects of the Affordable Care Act addressing agricultural workers as well as migrant workers.
  • National Immigration Law Center provides eligibility and benefits information of the Affordable Care Act specific to immigrants.
  • Native Exchange - a project of the Tribal Education and Outreach Consortium (TEOC) to provide Native Americans and Alaska Natives with materials about Health Insurance Exchanges and Medicaid Expansion.
  • Refugee Health offers information for refugees regarding the benefits and protections offered by the Affordable Care Act.
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides information for veterans and the Affordable Care Act.