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Affordable Care Act (ACA) Resources

What is the Affordable Care Act?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), frequently referred to as Obamacare, was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 23, 2010. The last enrollment period began November 1, 2015 for coverage beginning January 1, 2016. Individuals who enrolled and had a plan in 2015 were able to make changes or keep their current plan for 2016 by going to HealthCare.gov.

A brief outline of each Title (or section), as well as the full text of the ACA can be found at The Affordable Care Act, Section by Section from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Next Open Enrollment Period

The next open enrollment period will begin November 1, 2017 and will end December 15, 2017. Individuals can still enroll before this period if they have certain life changes. Need health insurance? See if you qualify.

Healthcare.gov has created the 5 Steps to Staying Covered:

1) Review

2) Update

3) Compare

4) Choose

5) Enroll

What is the role of libraries in the Affordable Care Act?

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) has partnered with several government agencies regarding the role of the NLM, and each of the eight Regional Medical Libraries (RMLs) has been working with their state libraries to provide information.

The American Library Association (ALA) provides specific information about the ACA and the Role of Libraries. Information and resources related to how public libraries are responding to health information needs, in particular needs related to the ACA can be found on the Health Happens in Libraries page of the OCLC WebJunction website.

Libraries and information providers are encouraged to link users to information provided by HealthCare.gov. Several widgets and badges are provided by HealthCare.gov in English and Spanish to quickly link website visitors to additional information. The codes for the widgets and badges are freely available and can quickly be added to already existing websites.

In 2014, American Library Association Publishing released a guide written specifically for library staff, Libraries and the Affordable Care Act: Helping the Community Understand Health-Care Options. This brief guide is meant to offer best practices, advice, and examples of library responses from the first open enrollment period, with particular emphasis on public libraries.

Recent Updates

  • Healthcare.gov
    HealthCare.gov and the Spanish version of the site CuidadoDeSalud.gov, continue to be the "go to" websites for information about the ACA. A toll free call center continues to be available 24/7 (1-800-318-2596), except on major holidays.

    The site allows individuals to preview their options and eligibility. Once Open Enrollment begins, the application for new HealthCare.gov consumers will be simpler, faster, and more intuitive.

    • Simpler: The consumer enters information only once. The system now saves data as the consumer moves through the application.
    • Faster: Depending on the specific situation, the new application could reduce the number of screens by more than 75%, with     fewer clicks to navigate through the questions.
    • More intuitive: The new application is more user-friendly with simpler navigation and built-in help along the way.

    In addition to the Spanish version of the site, CuidadoDeSalud.gov there are resources available in more than 10 languages. See a full list of languages available.

  • From Coverage to Care
    From Coverage to Care is a new initiative designed to help people with new health care coverage understand their benefits, and connect to primary care and preventive services that are right for them, so they can live a long and healthy life. From Coverage to Care has made available resources and videos which can be printed or ordered to assist patrons.

Key Resources

  • HealthCare.gov
    HealthCare.gov and the Spanish version CuidadoDeSalud.gov are the primary websites for information about the ACA. A toll free call center is available 24/7 (1-800-318-2596 or 1-855-889-4325 TTY/TDD). Operators can provide educational information and enrollment assistance in more than 150 different languages.

    The Get Coverage tab of the Healthcare.gov site provides customized information on the Health Insurance Marketplace for individuals, families, and small business owners. The site enables visitors to complete an application and see various plan options.

    LocalHelp.healthcare.gov allows individuals or organizations to enter their geographic location to identify local ACA consumer assistance destinations in their area. This resource is also available in Spanish.

  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
    CMS has been designated as the HHS division responsible for the rollout of the ACA. The site contains publications and articles on the Health Insurance Marketplace including application forms for individuals and families. Training materials for navigators, agents, brokers, and others providing assistance can also be found on this website.
  • MedlinePlus.gov
    A resource from the National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus has a Health Topics page devoted to all matters relevant to Health Insurance, including many items related to the ACA.

Other Organizations

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
    Healthcare.gov is a website created and maintained by HHS. Additional resources can also be found on the Affordable Care Act section of the website. This site includes information about the Affordable Care Act, the Health Insurance Marketplace, personal stories from Americans who now have health insurance, and more.
  • Office of Minority Health (Dept. of Health and Human Services)
    The Office of Minority Health has a number of specific resources targeted to racial and ethnic minority populations. Also, My Coverage, My Care is a toolkit (available in English and Spanish) which includes resources for learning more about health insurance coverage for individuals who are newly enrolled in plans.
  • Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
    The Topic Page on Health Reform has a lot of information regarding the ACA and health reform in general. Facts and figures related to the ACA as well as perspective from a variety of individuals are included on the site.
  • American Public Health Association (APHA)
    The Health Reform Topics and Issues page on the APHA website has several resources related to the ACA and public health initiatives.
  • Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center (RHTAC)
    RHTAC provides information on the benefits and protections in the ACA as they apply specifically to individuals residing in the U.S. who meet the definition of refugees. A summary for refugees of the information outlines provisions for this group. This resource also includes videos in English, Arabic, Karen, Kinyarwarda, Nepali, and Somali, as well as ACA briefs in multiple languages.