Public Libraries + the Affordable Care Act

To the general public, the relationship between  public libraries and the Affordable Care Act   seems tenuous.  But for those who work in these environments, helping with tax forms, setting up and learning how to use email, and generally being a wealth of knowledge on every and anything, public libraries  are a central part of lots of communities and are a big connector to the online portal to the health insurance marketplace.  In an attempt to bridge the town and gown relationship, the public library and I have been communicating information and support resources regarding ACA.   In preparation, the public library got a special training session on the new system from the official Shenandoah Valley ACA Navigator, Andrew Bolt, and I got to attend.

Key notes

  • About 66,000 kids in Virginia are able to stay on their parent’s insurance thanks to the extension to those up until age to 26
  • Currently, 1 million uninsured Virginians
    • est. 400,000 would qualify for Medicaid, if Virginia expanded
    • 300,000 adults+kids qualify for subsidized plan
    • est. 71,000 eligible for Medicaid/FAMIS
  • Still uninsured even after expansion
    • US Citizens – Medicaid gap
    • Low income legal immigrants – can’t afford exchange and fall into Virginia’s Medicaid gap
  • Online applications require an email address for follow-up communications
  • Online system ties to other government databases, such as Social Security and IRS, so you will not be able to create dummy accounts
  • Online application will first start with gathering key details (income, family size, etc.)
  • Online application will make a determination of plans and recommendations based on this information; the recommendation is not automatically generated but will be a follow-up email communication, since it may also refer people to FAMIS
  • After the determination, the system will allow for an apples-to-apples comparison of plans
  • Paper applications will be available through CMS’s website, but Andy has not been able to identify the exact location of the forms to print out yet
  • Spanish version of the website is available but the Spanish application system is not yet available
  • Support for other languages is available through the phone system
  • Those who are exempt from Individual mandate
    • Lowest-price exchange plan costs > 8% of family income
    • Income below tax filing threshold (e.g. $9750 single/$19500 couple in 2012)
    • Excused for other financial hardship
    • Religious objectors
    • Native Americans
    • Undocumented immigrants
    • Incarcerated persons
    • Those uninsured for less than 3 months
  • To learn more, check out Enroll-Virginia (and not the scammer website EnrollVirginia)

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