Affordable Care Act

This page collects resources on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) selected by WVLS staff for the consideration of patrons and library staff who want to learn more about this law, its effects and how to participate. Information and history below.

To suggest additions, please contact Anne Hamland at comm.coordinator@wvls.org.

Open Enrollment for 2018 is Nov 1- Dec 15

It’s open enrollment season again for Americans who buy coverage on the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges.  Reference librarians may expect many questions, confusion and anxiety – especially among those who may be using a health insurance exchange for the first time.

These marketplaces are intended for people who aren’t offered health benefits from their employers and aren’t enrolled in some other form of coverage, such as Medicare or Medicaid.

Despite the ongoing debate in Congress about whether to change or repeal the law and end insurer payments, it’s still the law, and it still comes with benefits and responsibilities.

In October 2017, President Trump announced he would no longer reimburse health insurance companies that provide cost-sharing reductions. But the law still requires insurers to reduce cost-sharing for eligible consumers. The insurance companies won’t get paid, but the subsidies aren’t going away. A bipartisan bill in Congress seeks to restore the payments.

Meanwhile, recent analysis by healthcare consulting firm Avalere Health asserts that most counties will have free 2018 exchange plans for low-income enrollees. While availability of free subsidized options decreases for individuals with higher incomes, 2018 will still see affordable plans and free subsidized options. Wisconsin is one of several states with a higher number of available subsidized free products at Healthcare.gov for older low income individuals.

Fast Facts

  • Wisconsin is one of 39 states using the federally run health insurance exchanges accessed via HealthCare.gov
  • Open enrollment begins Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15.
  • Wisconsin residents must enroll before the end of that six-week period.
  • 2017 enrollees start here: Renew, change, or update your health plan for 2018 at HealthCare.gov
  • Consumers who can’t access the internet or don’t want to enroll online can do so by phone by calling (800) 318-2596.
  • In Wisconsin, assistance is being scaled back, but remains available. People wanting help can call 211 or go to www.coveringwi.org Consumers can also find someone nearby to help them apply athttps://localhelp.healthcare.gov/#/
  • COVERING WISCONSIN connects Wisconsin residents with appropriate insurance coverage and other programs that support health, and to promote effective use of these programs.
  • The Affordable Care Act requires most U.S. residents to obtain some form of health coverage or face a penalty next time they file their income taxes. The fine doesn’t apply if you were uninsured for two months or less.
  • Some consumers qualify for health care exemptions detailed here.
  • People who sign up for coverage can count on the plans lasting all of 2018. (See full Wisconsin State Journal article below for more background and details to the current status of the Affordable Care Act in Wisconsin.)

According to the October 27, 2017 Wisconsin State Journal: 

Premiums for individual coverage at healthcare.gov will increase an average of 36 percent in Wisconsin next year. But tax credits received by about 81 percent of the 240,000 or so residents who buy such insurance are going up accordingly.

“It’s very important for people to log in to healthcare.gov, see what your plan choices are for 2018, and what they cost, and make the choice that’s best for you,” said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“Virtually everywhere, the premium tax credit will absorb the rate increase for people who are eligible for tax credits,” Pollitz said.

In Wisconsin, assistance is being scaled back but remains available, said Donna Friedsam, director of Covering Wisconsin. People wanting help can call 211 or go to www.coveringwi.org.

Digital Lites blog post “Affordable Care Act Enrollment for 2018 is November 1- December 15” published November 1, 2017 by Kris Adams Wendt.

Description

In March 2010, President Obama signed comprehensive health reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), into law. Created by the Affordable Care Act, Health Insurance Marketplaces, also known as Exchanges, will be are set up to facilitate a more organized and competitive market for buying health insurance.

Since Wisconsin has declined to accept federal funds and set up a state sponsored exchange, the federal government has assumed full responsibility for running a health insurance exchange in Wisconsin. See HealthCare.gov below. Wisconsin’s decision to adjust the state’s Medicaid program to cover adults only earning up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level ($11,490 a year for a single person) will require those living above it to enter private insurance exchanges.  For information on Wisconsin Health Care Programs including BadgerCare Plus, Wisconsin Medicaid, and prescription drug programs see ForwardHealth (Wisconsin Department of Health Services) below.

As key providers of information, Internet and digital literacy resources, libraries are encouraged to respond to ACA related information requests in the way that makes the most sense for their local communities. Libraries and library staff are not be expected to become ACA experts, but rather empowered with knowledge of available resources to which their patrons can be connected.

No federal or state funding has been allocated to public libraries to assist with enrollment. Librarians have long served as facilitators of reliable and accurate information when it comes to consumer legal, health and financial questions. Similar to the annual distribution of federal and state income tax forms, libraries provide access to the tools for ACA enrollment, but librarians are not be trained to provide specific advice to individuals in the selection of a plan.

These resources have been selected by WVLS staff for the consideration of patrons and library staff who want to learn more about this law, its effects and how to participate.

Law

Healthcare.gov

Resources

Covering WisconsinCovering Wisconsin

Connects Wisconsin residents with appropriate insurance coverage and other programs that support health, and to promote effective use of these programs. Resources include how to find local help, how to use insurance, and “How-To Sheets” including quick guides and answering basic questions.

Get America Covered

Get America Covered

Scroll down the home page for website’s best feature: “FIND LOCAL HELP” searches by ZIP code within a customer selected mileage range for places where consumers can consult with local application assisters. The “Take Local Action” tab leads to a variety of printable information in different languages about the open enrollment period, as well as social media graphics.

AARPAARP Healthcare Reform Law Fact Sheets

Get the facts about the Affordable Care Act with educational fact sheets from AARP’s department of Education & Outreach. Included are printable publications about the basics, the law and specific populations, provisions of the law, the law and Medicare, and information for small businesses. In Library Access: AARP Health Insurance home page.

Consumer ReportsConsumer Reports: Health Care News and Articles

Providing easy-to- understand comparative information to help consumers make the best decisions in the marketplace has been the mission of Consumer Reports for 76 years.

Kaiser Family Foundation

Kaiser Family Foundation: Health Reform

This website highlights resources examining Marketplaces and related issues. Kaiser is a nonprofit, private operating foundation focusing on the major health care issues facing the U.S., as well as the U.S. role in global health policy. It serves as a nonpartisan source of facts, information, analysis and journalism for policymakers, the media, the health care community, and the public. The Kaiser Family Foundation health insurance and savings calculator will give you a rough estimate of how much health insurance may cost.

WI Department of Health Services Logo

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

This website provides resources: BadgerCare, Consumer Guide to Health Care, Find a Health Care Facility or Care Provider, Family Care, End of Life Planning, Paying for Health Care in Wisconsin, and additional Wisconsin specific resources!

 

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