Public Libraries and Health Insurance Information

From American Libraries:

The ALA Washington Office held a special informational session on Sunday afternoon to let librarians get a head start on helping their patrons enroll for healthcare through the new Affordable Care Act, which aims to provide reasonable health insurance for all Americans equally, regardless of any pre-existing conditions.

Washington Office Executive Director Emily Sheketoff replayed the video of President Barack Obama that debuted earlier in the day at ALA Council I. As the president explained, the 85% of Americans who already have insurance through work or Medicare will not have to do anything; but beginning October 1, the 15% who are uninsured will be able to choose from a menu of competing, affordable plans in what Obama calls “the largest healthcare tax cut for working families in our history.” About 7 million people are expected to sign up for coverage in the new marketplaces, but the heavy emphasis on web-based portals will put anyone without access to a computer at a disadvantage.

Read the full article online here.

Sunday’s session at the ALA conference once again highlighted the critical role of public libraries in providing access to computers and the Internet for people who do not have access in their homes or elsewhere. As government and other services increasingly move online, public libraries will be depended upon even more to ensure that all Americans have access to the services they require. Along with providing access inevitably comes providing information. Public libraries can also serve their communities by being a primary source of information on the Affordable Care Act and all the health care options it entails. The above article recommends a few web resources as primary points of reference on this issue:

  •, from the  US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • Health Insurance Marketplace, geared toward librarians and others assisting others in applying for coverage
  • Medline Plus, a great general resource for health and medical information from the National Institutes of Health

For information with more of a local focus, check out the website of the North Dakota Insurance Department. Stay tuned for additional information and resources as the October 1 implementation date of the Health Insurance Marketplace approaches.


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