Evaluate your (Affordable Care Act) news!

Ah, yes, at a time when so many media sources are publishing and posting so many stories about delay, repeal, enforcement and every stripe of interpretation in between, we library folk need to keep our heads up above the tide and evaluate the authority of each wave. If the story you read, hear or view seems to indicate a sea change, check it out using your good ol’ information science criteria:

  • What’s the authority of your source?
  • What is the purpose of the assertion?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information provided complete?
  • Is the information up to date?

Have you heard that “everyone” has to enroll in the insurance marketplace in order to avoid a penalty? Well, no, not if your current health insurance aligns with the most basic protection and affordability criteria; text on the Covered California Coverage Basics page specifically reads:

If you already have affordable health insurance, you can keep it and no  further action is required. If for some reason you find yourself without   health insurance, please visit us again.

This is just one example of a specific and authoritative answer to a question that you are probably hearing at work, at home and discussed without cited authority in any of the media you consider fairly sound.

So, let’s look at this from a different angle, one also many full-time (and part-time, benefited) library staff are asking of each other: how does this grandfathering stuff work, and what does that mean in regard to the health insurance coverage the city/county/state provides to me as an employee? For a detailed and accessible discussion of this from a human resources perspective, take a look here at the FAQ maintained (that helps as we look at the evaluation criteria of the source, meaning it’s updated as well as put together at some past time!) by the Society for Human Resources Management.  Now, to get to and vet that resource, this librarian went through that evaluation stuff noted above. Yes, it took some time, although not nearly as much time (or energy) as leaving the question (“What determines whether my current health insurance is ‘grandfathered’?”) with a muzzy answer or a non-answer based on unevaluated opinions.

And that’s the game we’re in: hearing the rumor, recognizing its potential for being all the truth, a partial truth, or a misguiding non-truth, and then sorting out exactly what the authoritative information is. Makes me think this Affordable Care Act stuff is the perfect opportunity to prove our benefit as public libraries to all 17,000 communities served by same.