Community Engagement - Affordable Health Care Act Resources

The Affordable Care Act and Montana Libraries

During last year’s first open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act, 7.3 million Americans enrolled in a health insurance plan, 8 million got access to Medicaid and/or CHIP, and 3 million young people got coverage through their parents’ plans.  In Montana 36,000 individuals got signed up for health insurance through the Marketplace.  That was an excellent start, and the good work will continue during the next open enrollment period beginning November 15.  The Affordable Care Act hopes to reach the estimated 140,000 Montanans who still do not have health insurance.

This year’s open enrollment period is shorter than last year, running from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015.  The biggest day of open enrollment this year is expected to be “Enrollment Monday”, November 17.  December 15 will be the deadline for enrollment for coverage to begin January 1, 2015.  December 15 is also the deadline to make any changes to enrollment; individuals will be re-enrolled automatically if they make no changes by this date.

The campaign for 2015 enrollment will feature theme weeks such as “be thankful for coverage”, “give the gift of health care for the holidays”, “make your new year’s resolution for health”, and days of action directed to different audiences, including parents, young people, Latino, African-American and Native Americans.  And there will be a big push in the weeks leading up to the final deadline.   Stay tuned for more information about these special events.

Librarians do not need to become Affordable Care Act experts

Unless your library is a certified assister organization, the librarians' role is to provide just basic information and referral. Only Certified Navigator organizations and Certified Application Counselors (CACs) can assist patrons with completing enrollment applications, which involves sensitive personal information and complex decisions about providers and plans.

Last year, many Montana libraries partnered with community organizations and insurance providers to present informational programs.  Some libraries provided a location and technology for CACs to help citizens enroll through the Marketplace. Libraries are trusted community partners and can help CACs to identify audiences and develop messages. 

Each public library should determine its own strategy for participation in ACA enrollment assistance based on community needs and available resources.

Strategies for Libraries

1. Provide basic information about the health insurance marketplace and referralf or enrollment assistance

Staff can provide program dates and basic talking points.

The library can display posters, provide flyers and handouts for patrons from the Marketplace Outreach and Education; site.  Also, find cool stuff at andFrom Coverage to Care.  You can use Department of Health and Human Services "Thankful for Coverage" flickr photos for free

Staff can refer patrons to certified Navigators and CACs for application assistance

In communities without certified assisters, staff can refer patrons to online enrollment assistance. Some patrons may want to use printed applications which they complete on their own.

2. Partner with CACs in community to provide service at library

Many CACs don’t have much in the way of offices or computers. Libraries can provide an appropriate location and technology infrastructure for partnership - meeting/office space and/or dedicated computer(s)

Check out these community partnership opportunities

3.  Become a Certtified Application Counselor Organization

4.  Become a Champion for Coverage Organization and actively promote enrollment

Resources for Patrons

Find Local Help  Enter zip code or Town and find certified assisters nearest to you The health care Marketplace for consumers

HealthSherpa  Interactive site providing Information about premiums for health exchange plans for consumers

AARP Health Law Answers Learn how the health care law works for you and your family (interactive site)

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services – information about Medicaid, Healthy Montana Kids and more

Montana Health Answers Talk to a Human Ask Away online or learn how to contact Navigators and Certified Counselors

Marketplace 101 webinars  All about the Health Insurance Marketplace including what's needed at tax time

Tuesday SHOP Webinars for small business owners, weekly through the end of February

Resources for Librarians

Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services Health Insurance Marketplace  For professional learning about the Marketplace

US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration – information source for providers and outreach partners

Health Happens in Libraries  webinars and learning resources for librarians from Webjunction

ACA Implementation Information for American Indians and Alaska Natives  from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine "Bringing Health to the Community" blog

Information about the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) from the the Health Care Marketplace and from the US Small Business Administration