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Affordable Care Act

Important information public libraries need now about the Affordable Care Act

What Libraries Need to Know


As part of the Affordable Health Care Act, U.S. citizens and legal residents are required to have qualifying health coverage. 

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services formed partnership to help libraries respond to patron requests for assistance in understanding and navigating new health insurance options in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

What Libraries Need to Know

• Ohio has chosen to use the federal exchange for health insurance rather than implementing a state-based exchange. The federal exchange is located online at

• The federal exchange opened October 1, 2013.  Open Enrollment will close March 31, 2014. A handout with dates is available.

• There are four methods an individual can use to apply for health care insurance: mail, toll-free phone, online at, and in person through certified navigators. The toll-free phone number patrons can call for assistance is 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325). Assistance is available in multiple languages.  For Spanish speaking consumers, is also available.

• The federal government awarded grants to organizations that will serve as certified Navigators for health insurance. These Navigators will be trained by the federal   government and will provide in-person assistance to individuals. The Ohio Navigators were announced August 15, 2013. The State Library compiled the list of Ohio Navigators.

• The Ohio Association of Foodbanks, a statewide navigator organization, is looking for partners to help host enrollment events in easily accessible locations.  Libraries interested should fill out this online form:  The libraries would ideally be able to help with logistics of the event and provide meeting space and computers.

• In addition to Navigators, organizations will serve as Certified Application Counselors and will help with enrollment.  These organizations will receive federal training but will not receive any funds. Organizations interested in becoming Certified Application Counselors can apply at

• There will also be Champions of Coverage, orgnaizations that will assist with outreach and education.  Organizations intersted in becoming a Champion of Coverage should apply at

• A tool to help people find local help is available at More information is being added to the tool in the next few weeks.

• A site with resoures for organizations, including libraries, is available at It includes printable handouts as well as the paper form for individuals, families, and individuals not receiving financial assistance. To order informational materials in bulk, you will need to create a username and password at Once your account is approved, you will be able to choose the publications that you wish to order and they will ship them to you for free.

• has many resources for patrons including printable fact sheets: Get Ready to Enroll in the Marketplace and Things to Think About When Choosing a Health Plan.  They also have a YouTube channel with videos.

• has created several widgets and badges in English and Spanish to quickly link website visitors to additional information. Code for the widgets and badges is provided and can quickly be added to already existing websites.


What Obamacare Means for You video from the White House

• 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.

• American Library Association's Affordable Care Act for Libraries

• The Ohio Department of Insurance has a Frequently Asked Questions section on federal health care reforms.

• The Centers for Medicare and Medicade Services has a Frequently Asked Questions on the Health Insurance Marketplace (Exchange) section.

• Kaiser Family Foundation's For Consumers: Understanding Health Reform site includes great resources including a flowchart for The Requirement to Buy Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act and video, The YouToons Get Ready for Obamacare: Health Insurance Changes Coming Your Way Under the Affordable Care Act.

• Consumer Reports free guides to health care reform and Medicare

• AARP: Health Insurance, Health Law Answers, and Health Care Reform Law Fact Sheets

Medline Plus, administered by the US National Institutes of Health, which presents information on medicine and healthcare in easy-to-understand language.

• Rural Assistance Center Health Reform Topic Guide

• U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has Key Features of the Affordable Care Act and fact sheets.

• American Public Health Association Health Reform Resources

Guidelines for Medical, Legal, and Business Responses from the American Library Association's Reference and User Services Association

• Do's and Don'ts. This Job Aide for libraries will assist  library staff in helping with questions about the Heathcare Insurance Marketplace.

• WebMD's Health Care Reform: A Guide to Health Insurance and Affordable Care Act

Veterans and the ACA from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

• Curious about where uninsured Ohioans are located?  Enroll America provides maps, including this interactive Google map of Ohio.


• A message from Beverly Cain, State Librarian of Ohio on the Affordable Care Act and the impact on libraries.

• Assisting the Public with Health Insurance Changes, a free webinar given by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

View the Recording
View the Slides

Affordable Care Act: Resources for Librarians: Free webinar given by Ruth Holst, Director, and Samanthi Hewakapuge, Consumer Health Coordinator, from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Greater Midwest Region.

         Given Tuesday, September 10: Recording coming in late October, Slides

Privacy, Difficult Conversations, and Drawing the Line: Considerations for Librarians Assisting Patrons with Implementation of the Affordable Care Act given byDon Boozer, KnowItNow Coordinator.  Since it is recorded, you can watch it at a time convenient to you.

• WebJunction webinars
          Libraries & Health Insurance: Preparing for October 1, is recorded and available.
          Meaningful Use: Libraries Connecting Patrons to ACA Resources, is recorded and available.
          Federal Depository Libraries and the Affordable Care Act: is recorded and available. (learn more about depository libraries in Ohio).

• Center for Medicare & Medicade Services (CMS) has Training Materials and Presentations and Health Insurance Marketplace training webinars (Health Insurance Marketplace 101, Understanding the Health Insurance Marketplace, and Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Overview Training).


Public libraries should review their reference policies with staff to make sure they are clear about your library's guidelines for providing the best possible service to all patrons.  This will help staff with questions around standards of service, levels of service to users (including limits of service), and priorities of service.  The American Library Association recommends that legal counsel review your policy for legal language and compliance with Ohio laws.

• About Library Reference Policies

• Sample Reference Policies

Aurora Public Library (Aurora, IL)
Bridgewater Public Library (Bridgewater, MA)
Mount Horeb Public Library (Mount Horeb, WI)
St. Louis Public Library (St. Louis, MO)

The Ohio Library Council has provided the following notice that libraries could post to communicate to the public about library staff assistance.:

“The Affordable Care Act includes sweeping changes and a number of options in healthcare coverage. There are a wide variety of resources available online that provide information about these options, and how to choose what is best for you. The staff of the ______________ Public Library can direct patrons to those resources.  
Making the correct healthcare choices requires an understanding of each person’s or family’s unique health and financial circumstances. Members of the ______________ Public Library staff are not trained or licensed to provide advice or to assist you in selecting a specific health plan, but can provide information and direction to public resources about the Affordable Care Act that will help you make your own choices.”