The Affordable Care Act and Montana Libraries
Here are some key points to keep in mind:
The Affordable Care Act hopes to reach the estimated 199,000 Montanans who do not have health insurance. Take a look at this map to see how many of those uninsured are in your area.
Librarians do not need to become Affordable Care Act experts. The librarians' role is to provide 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.
Many CACs don’t have well-equipped offices. Libraries can partner with Counselors to provide them with a location and technology infrastructure to help citizens enroll in ACA. 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 referral for enrollment assistance
b. The library can display posters, provide flyers and handouts for patrons. Select appropriate marketplace materials, for example: About the Health Insurance Marketplace (bi-fold brochure), or Get Ready to Enroll in the Marketplace (flyer)
c. Staff can refer patrons to application assisters who can help – certified Navigators and CACs. Find out what help is available locally at https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/
d. In communities without certified assisters, staff can refer patrons to online enrollment assistance at HealthCare.gov or 24/7 telephone help at 1-800-318-2596 (from HealthCare.gov). Some patrons may want to use printed applications which they complete on their own. Online application is recommended for faster service.
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, dedicated computer)
3. Become a Certified Application Counselor Organization
4. Become a Champion for Coverage Organization and actively promote enrollment
- Some Montana Champions include: AARP Montana, Central Montana Medical Center, Community Hospital of Anaconda, District XI Human Resource Council, Inc., MHA Association of Montana Health Care Providers, Missoula Public Library, Montana Library Association, MT Migrant Council, Inc.
Resources for Patrons
HealthCare.gov The health care Marketplace for consumers
HealthSherpa 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 Health Answers Talk to a Human Ask Away online or contact Navigators, Certified Counselors and Agents
Resources for Librarians
Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services Health Insurance Marketplace For professional learning about the Marketplace
Making Health Care Reform Work for Montanans (Montana Commission of Securities and Insurance webinar for Marketplace assistors and other interested parties, 46 min)
Affordable Care Act Implementation Information for American Indians and Alaska Natives from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine "Bringing Health to the Community" blog