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, are set up to facilitate a more organized and competitive market for buying health insurance. The current open enrollment period runs from November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015. Individuals enrolling by December 15 will receive coverage starting January 1, 2015.
Since Wisconsin has declined to accept federal funds and set up a state sponsored exchange, the federal government will assume 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 will 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.