Who doesn't need affordable healthcare coverage? Amidst all the debate about it, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, is still in operation and still offers subsidized coverage to many in the country. The catch? The annual enrollment period is very short this year, just six weeks, and choosing a plan and enrolling in it is complicated. Open enrollment for 2020 begins November 1, 2019, and runs through December 15, 2019. Library patrons will undoubtedly need help, and the Public Library Association (PLA) has some free resources for you on this.
In-Person Assistance Is Key
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey of health insurance marketplace assister programs found that the need for in-person assistance remains strong. About 80 percent of assister programs reported that most to nearly all consumers sought help because they lacked confidence to apply for coverage and financial assistance on their own. As well, about eight in 10 programs said most to nearly all consumers needed help evaluating plan choices.
The Connecting You to Coverage Initiative
The PLA's free program to encourage enrollment in the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace this year is called Libraries Connecting You to Coverage. "Libraries have an opportunity to advance their work in equity, diversity, inclusion and social justice by helping reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health coverage," explains PLA executive director Barb Macikas. "Together we can provide education and support to help all members of our communities understand and take advantage of their rights."
Please note: Dates and enrollment periods may differ in the 23 states operating in partnership with the federal government that use a state-based marketplace that uses the federal platform or a standalone state-based marketplace.
How This Initiative Came About
PLA received a first grant last year from Community Catalyst (sourced from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) and was invited to participate again this year. The goal for this work is to help support libraries in their existing efforts to educate and build awareness of the ACA or to start new efforts. Libraries are seen as valued allies in this type of work. They know the health needs of their communities. They are key to providing education, training, and resources for people to live healthy lives. Most importantly, public libraries are beacons of trust. Making healthcare available to everyone is an equity issue that impacts us all.
Here are some highlights of the PLA resources and outreach materials for libraries to help patrons navigate choosing and enrolling in a plan.
- PLA's Connecting You to Coverage Initiative main page
- The PLA Training and Outreach Materials Hub on Google Docs
- Tools for directing patrons to local enrollment assistance
- Healthcare training for patrons: DigitalLearn's searching for online health information
- Certify your library as a certified application counselor designated organization
- Enrollment assister readiness materials
- Information about coverage plans
- Healthcare insurance jargon explained
- Health news for your library
- 5 Steps to Get Started with Health Insurance flyer (PDF)
- Checklist for a Health Insurance Education and Enrollment Event (PDF)
- Special Enrollment Period poster — 8.5x11 (PDF)
- Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment poster — 8.5x11 (PDF)
- Be a health advocate for your library with this presentation template (PowerPoint)