Contributed by Leighann Wood, Program Manager, Public Library Association, firstname.lastname@example.org
In recognition of Health Literacy Month in October, the Public Library Association (PLA) is offering public libraries, especially those in states that utilize the Federally-Facilitated Marketplace, healthcare.gov, a suite of free tools and resources. This is in preparation for the next Open Enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) beginning on November 1, 2019-December 15, 2019. Libraries can start or increase their efforts to educate and build awareness of coverage options as well as the option of enrolling in Medicaid or a Special Enrollment Period year-round.
The passage of the ACA has seen more than 20 million people gain access to health insurance coverage through the Marketplace. According to an issue brief from the Commonwealth Fund, key findings were that “all racial and ethnic groups saw gains in health coverage between 2013 and 2016, but these gains were especially prominent for minority groups and individuals with incomes below 139 percent of the federal poverty level.”
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported that almost 8.5 million people in the 39 Healthcare.gov-participating states enrolled in coverage during the six-week enrollment period of 2019. This represents a 4% decrease compared to the previous year’s open enrollment numbers. Thanks to the hard work of enrollment advocates, including public libraries, the drop was much smaller than anticipated despite the drastic cuts to the Federal Navigator funding and advertising budgets.
Access to current and reliable health information is imperative for the wellbeing of everyone, and public libraries are frequently a “go-to” resource as people navigate complex issues related to health care, insurance, aging and more. In addition to offering appropriate information, libraries improve access in practical ways for people who need technology or communication enhancements, such as plain language documentation, assistive devices, or multilingual materials.
Health literacy can help improve health outcomes and reduce medical costs when patients and their caregivers seek healthy habits, understand a new diagnosis, develop a self-care plan and emergency instructions. Many communities and special populations rely on libraries to help them identify specific access points to programs which demand computer use to gain services and information. Great potential can be effectively realized only with increased training for library staff and effective partnerships that leverage library assets.
Take Action at Your Library!
- Important dates to remember:
Open Enrollment begins November 1, 2019 – December 15, 2019 for coverage that begins on January 1, 2020.
- Find out if your state utilizes the Federally Facilitated Marketplace or a State-Based Marketplace.
- Tell your community the library is here to help learn about and enroll in health insurance coverage plans!
- Advertise on social media, tv, radio and other outlets using the ready-made communications assets in 8 different languages in the Outreach Hub (Note materials with specific dates are in the process of being updated, but the materials are editable for your own branding!)
- Host workshops or informational sessions with local healthcare advocates
- Distribute printed materials
- Checklist to apply for or re-enroll in health insurance – 8.5×11 (PDF)
- Sign up for a 2020 health insurance plan brief poster – 8.5×11 (PDF)
- 5 Steps to Get Started with Health Insurance brief poster – 8.x11 (PDF)
- Special Enrollment Period explained brief poster – 8.5×11 (PDF)
- Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment brief poster – 8.5×11 (PDF)
- Reach out to local healthcare partners and advocates to share expertise and get assistance with enrollment.
- Let community members know the important role your library plays in health and wellness! Tell library users all the ways you can help them with this illuminating poster.
- Stay up to date on ACA related news by subscribing to the Community Catalyst blog!
- Check out what other free resources and materials the National Network of Libraries of Medicine has to offer!
Learn more about what public libraries are doing to educate their communities about health insurance enrollment:
- Free Webinar: Health Insurance Literacy and How Libraries Can Help hosted by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) on October 16, 1pm PT. Presented by Emily Vardell, Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Management at Emporia State University. She will be presenting information for libraries to assist their patrons so they can increase their knowledge about health insurance.
- On Demand Webinar: Libraries Connecting You to Coverage
- This free on-demand webinar helps public library staff plan for how they can promote the deadlines, educate their communities, find certified enrollment assistance, and support patrons’ efforts to enroll successfully. Learn how two very different public libraries are using free resources to offer essential guidance to their communities.
- Public Libraries Podcast — Libraries Connecting You to CoverageWe talk with Rachelle Brandel, Adult Services Librarian at the Ferguson (MO) Public Library about PLA’s ‘Libraries Connecting You to Coverage’ initiative and the Ferguson Library’s efforts to help their community members enroll in health insurance during the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period.
- Providing Healthcare Information Services in Small and Rural Libraries Public Libraries Online article written by Jacqueline F. Rammer, Library Director, Lakeview Community Library (Random Lake, WI).