What can libraries do?
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. 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
- Check out the Public Library Association's "Libraries Connecting You to Coverage" webpage with a downloadable guide and helpful tips to help your community
- 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 CMS.gov, Healthcare.gov, state specific websites, ALA, Webjunction's Health Happens in Libraries, and of course check here on the PNR Affordable Care Act website
The Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Sign up for email and text updates to get deadline reminders and other important information regarding the Health Insurance Marketplace on the home webpage at HealthCare.gov
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).
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 guides 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.
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 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 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.
The webinar series, PNR Rendezvous, hosted 2 sessions focusing on health insurance in 2019. The recording links are just below the speakers' bios.
State Specific Resources
Healthcare.gov is the first place to start when looking for information about signing up for insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Each state will have their own information as well. Check these state specific sites for added updates.
Information for specific populations regarding the Affordable Care Act
Seniors, Americans with Disabilities, Immigrant and Refugee Populations, LGBTQIA+ Community, Farm and Migrant Workers, Native Americans and Alaska Natives, Veterans
Healthcare.gov is the most direct source of information regarding all aspects of ACA and the Health Insurance Marketplace, including for specific populations. Other resources are below.
- The National Disability Navigator provides helpful information regarding those with disabilities who want information on the Affordable Care Act specific to their needs.
- The National Council of Urban Indian Health developed an ACA Resource Center patients and a variety of professionals. The Indian Health Services also has information and resources.
- EthnoMed addresses both immigrant and refugee Affordable Care Act information in various languages and including information specific to Washington state.
- National Immigration Law Center provides eligibility and benefits information of the Affordable Care Act specific to immigrants.
- Refugee Health offers information for refugees regarding the benefits and protections offered by the Affordable Care Act.
- Farm Worker Justice address various aspects of the Affordable Care Act addressing agricultural workers as well as migrant workers.
- Human Rights Campaign provides key information regarding the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community specific to the Affordable Care Act.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides information for veterans and the Affordable Care Act.