PLA’s Insurance Education and Outreach Initiatives
PLA, in partnership with Community Catalyst and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, for the third year are working together to inform communities about health insurance enrollment. PLA will continue to help libraries promote the Open Enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act for 2021 and will add information on how to promote Medicaid all year long.
Public libraries, as critical community anchors, are well positioned to share information about insurance enrollment, to support patron’s efforts to enroll successfully, and to advance population health with improved outcomes.
- In response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, President Biden issued an Executive order opening a new COVID Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for individuals and families for federal Marketplace coverage with an additional three month extension. Beginning February 15, 2021 through August 15, 2021, these Marketplaces will be open to allow for new applications or to update existing application. State-Based Marketplaces (SBMS) also have extended enrollment periods to support this SEP.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wanted to ensure that anyone who is uninsured would be able to have access to coverage regardless of their life circumstances. Typical SEPs require a qualifying event for an individual to be eligible for a SEP. The COVID SEP does not require any of these events to have occurred for an individual to be eligible for the SEP. No documentation is required for the COVID SEP as there is no reason to provide confirmation of a qualifying event.
- Under the COVID SEP, coverage begins the next month regardless of how late in the month it is, so if someone enrolls in a plan on the last day of the month, the coverage would start the very next day.
- Medicaid enrollment is possible at any time during the year. Applications can go through the Federal Marketplace or through individual state agencies. For materials to promote Medicaid enrollment, visit our Medicaid Outreach Partnership hub.
Awareness and Prevention for Patrons
Promote the Special Enrollment Period of February 15, 2021–August 15, 2021. Tell your community the library is here to help learn about and enroll in health insurance coverage plans!
Advertise on social media, tv, radio and other outlets using the ready-made communications assets in the Outreach Hub* for:
- The COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period
- Social Media Guide for the COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period
- Coverage options, including Medicaid or Special Enrollment Period
- Using your health insurance
- Preventive care
- Social media–friendly assets
- Radio ad scripts
- Spanish and other language assets
*Assets in the Outreach Hub folder will be updated on an ongoing basis to reflect the current year 2020. Most assets are editable and may be adapted to your library’s branding.
- Encourage patrons to improve their health literacy skills by completing health information courses on Digitallearn.org.
- Add MyHealthfinder content to your library’s website to share evidence-based health information with people who need it most.
- Check out the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Outreach and Education webpage which includes additional outreach assets including social media posts, ads, and videos.
- Help patrons find LGBT-Friendly Insurance Enrollment Help.
- Promote Healthy Family Habits created by the National Center for Families Learning.
Host workshops or informational sessions for your patrons
- Promote your event using this DIY event flyer template (PDF)
- Or use this DIY event poster template (PDF)
Distribute printed materials
- 5 Steps to Get Started with Health Insurance brief poster – 8.5x11 (PDF)
- Special Enrollment Period explained brief poster (UPDATED) – 8.5x11 (PDF)
- Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment brief poster – 8.5x11 (PDF)
Professional Development for Library Staff
Reach out to community partners and healthcare advocates to share expertise and get assistance with enrollment.
- Watch PLA’s free, on-demand webinar, “The ACA and Advancing LGBTQ Health”
- Get involved with our healthcare advocacy partners at Young Invincibles by joining their email list and using and advertising the Get Covered Connector to help your community find local health insurance application assisters.
- Join PLA’s Health interest group (login required*) on ALA Connect.
- Complete LGBTQ cultural competency training from our partners at Out2Enroll.
- Consider becoming a Certified Application Counselor Designated Organization (CDO) and receive training through CMS to assist your community members with health insurance questions and enrollment.
Familiarize yourself with exceptions that allow consumers to enroll outside the Open Enrollment period. Promote the screening tool at healthcare.gov/screener for people to determine if they can complete Special Enrollment or enroll in Medicaid or CHIP.
- Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services: cms.gov
- Coverage plans and more: HealthCare.gov
- Turning the Page: www.publiclibraryadvocacy.org
- National Network of Libraries of Medicine: nnlm.gov
- Digital Literacy Training for Patrons: digitallearn.org
Library Mini Awards
On September 14, 2020 PLA announced awardees for its third year (PDF) of the Libraries Connecting You to Coverage initiative. New to the initiative this year, PLA has awarded 19 libraries $1,000 to support their organization in becoming a Certified Application Counselor Designated Organization (CDO) and certifying at least one staff member and/or volunteer as a Certified Application Counselor (CAC). 13 libraries have received $1,000 to support efforts to increase communication, awareness and education about the upcoming Open Enrollment period, 8 of which also received funding to become CDOs!
During its second annual initiative in 2019–2020, PLA offered mini-grants to support up to 100 U.S. public libraries (PDF) who disseminated information, offered education, partnered with health insurance enrollment and provider groups, and encouraged community members to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace during the open enrollment period. For its first year of the initiative in 2019, PLA distributed quality materials and communications, and offered mini-grants to 64 U.S. public libraries (PDF) and again to 40 U.S. public libraries (PDF) to implement outreach and education activities for understanding health insurance and health information.