The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress and then signed into law by the President on March 23, 2010. On June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court rendered a final decision to uphold the health care law.
At the 2013 ALA Annual Conference, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and WebJunction, a program of OCLC, to assure that librarians have the information and connections with local experts needed to connect their patrons to information about the Health Insurance Marketplace when open enrollment begins October 1, 2013.
This project is supported through an agreement with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and while work is just getting under way, the following is intended to support state and public libraries in understanding initial priorities for this work.
Libraries have a long history of meeting public demand for consumer health information. A recent IMLS study showed that an estimated 37 percent of library computer users (28 million people) use library computers and seek assistance from librarians for health and wellness issues, including learning about medical conditions, finding health care providers, and assessing health insurance options.
Libraries are likely to see an increased demand for these services with the establishment of federal and state-run Health Insurance Marketplaces, which open for public enrollment on October 1, 2013, as part of the Affordable Care Act.
As part of the Affordable Health Care Act, U.S. citizens and legal residents will be required to have qualifying health coverage by January 1, 2014. In preparation for this, starting October 1, 2013, the Health Insurance Marketplace, sometimes known as the health insurance "exchange" (a place where consumers can purchase subsidized health insurance coverage) will be available.
Health insurance exchanges are where people and small businesses can shop for and buy private health insurance. Some states are choosing to create their own marketplace, while other states such as South Carolina will use the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. Consumers will have the same health plan choices available to members of Congress.
The marketplaces are not private insurance companies or government-run health plans. With one application, consumers can find out if they qualify for health plans in the marketplace, and other programs like Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), tax credits, and cost-sharing reductions.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced a partnership to help libraries get ready to respond to patron requests for assistance in understanding and navigating new health insurance options in the Health Insurance Marketplace.
WebJunction received an IMLS grant to provide information to the library community regarding opportunities and resources to connect patrons to health and wellness information. Although the project is still in development, an eHealth section on the WebJunction website has resources available now to help libraries get started. Also included in this project will be a needs assessment regarding patron requests for health information and the development of a comprehensive guide for public libraries to utilize in helping patrons navigate health information at their local library.
WebJunction hosted a webinar, Libraries & Health Insurance: Preparing for October 1, to share information about plans to provide library staff with online resources to respond to increased patron information needs related to the Affordable Care Act.
Meaningful Use: Libraries connecting patrons to ACA resources: August 28 at 1:00 p.m. EST. As libraries look ahead to the October 1 open enrollment date for the health insurance marketplace, there is an abundance of information about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and many opportunities for public libraries. One of the key roles that libraries can play is to maintain an awareness of available resources in your area, and develop an approach for connecting patrons to those resources in the way that makes the most sense for your community. Please join this interactive session, where we will discuss strategies for libraries to identify ACA resources, hear from libraries that are working to prepare for patron requests, and obtain key policy and resource updates from ACA experts. If you cannot attend this live session, a recorded archive will be available to view at your convenience. Please sign up to receive notifications about this project, including when the archive is available. Visit WebJunction to register for this event.
It is likely that there will be an increased request from the public for general health information. Below are great resources for providing quality consumer health information.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), who are actively partnering with IMLS in this work, shared some of the key resources and timelines available for individuals who wish to learn more about and enroll in the Affordable Care Act at HealthCare.gov.
South Carolina has chosen to use the federal health insurance exchange, named the Health Insurance Marketplace, for health insurance rather than implementing a state-based exchange. The federal exchange is located at Healthcare.gov. For Spanish speaking consumers, CuidadoDeSalud.gov is also available.
Call the toll-free phone number 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) for help applying. Assistance is available in multiple languages.
Discus is South Carolina's Virtual Library, brought to you by the SC State Library.
HealthCare.gov provides a glossary of terms related to insurance in general and the Affordable Care Act. Here are a few key terms.
The comprehensive health care reform law enacted in March 2010. The law was enacted in two parts: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010 and was amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act on March 30, 2010. The name “Affordable Care Act” is used to refer to the final, amended version of the law.
Insurance program jointly funded by state and federal government that provides health coverage to low-income children and, in some states, pregnant women in families who earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford to purchase private health insurance coverage.
A resource where individuals, families, and small businesses can learn about their health coverage options; compare health insurance plans based on costs, benefits, and other important features; choose a plan; and enroll in coverage. The Marketplace also provides information on programs that help people with low to moderate income and resources pay for coverage.
A benefit your employer, union or other group sponsor provides to you to pay for your health care services.