Health Insurance marketplace update

Some key dates have been announced for the next open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace. These dates also apply for Covered California.

  • November 15, 2014. Open Enrollment begins. Apply for, keep, or change your coverage.
  • December 15, 2014. Enroll by the 15th if you want new coverage that begins on January 1, 2015. If your plan is changing or you want to change plans, enroll by the 15th to avoid a lapse in coverage.
  • December 31, 2014. Coverage ends for 2014 plans. Coverage for 2015 plans can start as soon as January 1st.
  • February 15, 2015. This is the last day you can apply for 2015 coverage before the end of Open Enrollment.

Public libraries, the Affordable Care Act, and news in 2014

With the initial healthcare insurance enrollment period, and the attendant media running up to and during those months, just fading in memory, it’s already time to use what we learned and improve on the remarkably smooth Covered California/California public library interfaces we began to build a year ago. WebJunction has been pursuing the study and documentation of public library processes and lessons in various states. Reading their report on the California experience offers insights on what worked here and why.

The second open health insurance enrollment period is scheduled to begin November 15. The Affordable Care Act includes many directives besides this particular and complex one. Now is a good time to review the various aspects beyond insurance coverage that might be affecting your community and be prime to target by library staff as local information development needs.

This year at CLA, a program featuring Covered California, the community aware staff at Alameda County Library who gave a star performance connecting community to Affordable Care access and information the first year out, and Infopeople, which continues to update and provide free access to the independent online series Affordable Care Act @ Your California Public Library, is slated for Sunday afternoon.

Do you have programming experiences around Affordable Care you’d like to share? As WebJunction notes in its report, our collaborative capacity is a California library strength.

American news habits and information needs

A week ago, during a multi-organization meeting about how public libraries play a role in connecting federal and state policy information to the community members in need of the real scoop, the topic of broadband access was teased out in a couple salient directions. One I found particularly wanting further discussion is how disconnected a community can become from changing government directions (think the Covered California insurance marketplace as an example) when its online access is limited to public computers? It’s not that skills like using a mouse or email continue to lack penetration; instead, what hasn’t bloomed in such circumstances is the habit of staying informed around civic engagement concerns.

How do we, as information specialists–and civil servants, help community members build the skills and the habits which constant news updating require of anyone participating in our culture?

Joachim Scopfel, Director of the Atelier National de Reproduction des Thèses, Charles de Gaulle University (France), has published an infographic that gives us not only numbers related to how Americans share news, but also points up the very venues for news that may not, after all, be all that available to all Americans. And even when technical availability exists, are community members engaging the most efficient methods for accessing policy updates? The research shows a continuing reliance on email over social media, as the online channel for updates. As with all correspondence, email brings with it the requirement that the recipient evaluate the authority of the sender: is the news included reliable, timely, and appropriate to the recipient’s own situation? On the other hand, a direct Twitter feed, from, in this example, Covered California, guarantees the authority and timeliness, while each message’s design should allow the reader to be able to judge quickly whether it pertains to her situation.

As information guides, can we boost community access to what’s official, help direct community members’ attention to how they, impacted as they know they are by government policy and policy changes, can take control over keeping abreast of those policy news bits, bites and bytes that affect them? What does tech access education look like in libraries offering the news skills needed as we approach the first quarter point of the 21st century?

Springing the Numbers

At the onset of April, we posted Infopeople’s busy and rich offerings for the month. And, wow, library staff got busy, too, and signed up, signed in, and signified a grand scale of engagement! Here’s a scan of how all that busy busy busy quantified:

  • Online courses that opened in April have 137 participants engaged.
  • Free webinars broadcast in April met with a combined audience of 707 viewers of the live events, and their archives were tapped 966 additional times!
  • Online independent learning series continued to draw new registrants, and currently have a combined total of 49 independent learners working through these service focus areas.

And here are the numbers we see in our social media presence:

  • As April drew to an end, @infotweets has 714 followers on Twitter, and received three to five notices a day of retweeting or favoriting by library leaders, staff and library staff development fans of posts we tweeted.
  • Infopeople’s Facebook page collected four new friends, bringing the total there to 414. We share our own events as well as compelling library world stories there, with our posts in April earning 134 Likes and/ Shares.
  • With the news that Google+ is likely on its way out, Infopeople is refocusing energy from that venue to Tumblr. An update on that will appear here soon.

Moving the Infoblog back to WordPress has made it much more discoverable. April’s podcasts and written posts on the blog saw 700 visitors beside all of you who subscribe directly or catch blog posting alerts on Twitter or Facebook.

With all that for April, there is no laurel resting now that May has bloomed. Upcoming this month are four new online courses, for which you can still register; at least five new free webinars; and ongoing opportunities to dive into our three currently open online independent learning series (Teaser: we’ve got another couple of those, on very different topics, in the works, planning for debut before the end of summer). In addition to all that, two of three limited enrollment sessions of an onground course opportunity, Mentoring: Challenge and Support in Equal Measures, are slated for May (with the third iteration in June).

So count yourself in and spring into some accessible professional development!

Why We Rebooted–and Why You Need to Reboot, Too

Yesterday, Infopeople announced the grand reopening–okay, the notice–of the free (free!) independent online learning series, Affordable Care Act @ Your California Public Library. And no, it wasn’t an April Fools’ Day joke. What the heck?  Did we somehow miss the word that the initial enrollment period for the health insurance marketplace closed March 31?

Nope. And that’s exactly why we rebooted, revised, and re-announced. The health insurance marketplace is just one of the Affordable Care Act’s features. So, with that initial enrollment period now history, and with the California state public health policy makers, practitioners and health awareness foundations turning to the other major elements of the Act, it’s time for us, library folk, to turn attention to them, too. Or, more to the point, to turn our attention to how we can best assist our communities in connecting to health and wellness access, information and education that is up to date with the Act.

Among the big issues:

  • Financial and health literacy needs in many communities
  • Clarity about how to find, select and engage with clinicians to receive preventive care
  • Learning American English vocabulary for reading prescription info
  • Learning that there is linguistic and culturally competent healthcare available

The Affordable Care Act, made law in 2010, has a decade-long roll out period. The initial insurance enrollment came at the beginning of year four, so there’s a lot to discover that has been in place and which is now coming into play legally, and there’s even more to consider when it comes to planning how you can help your community connect to what is rightfully theirs under the law.

Looking forward to seeing you there!