The system first turned to the state, which is running the health care marketplace in partnership with the federal government. Libraries in Delaware have since hosted more than three dozen public events.
Navigators, or federally certified application assistors, have used library space to meet with people and help them enroll. The libraries have computers with solid, protected internet connections, which are helpful for people who don’t have internet access elsewhere.
Norman says they haven't seen the influx of people they had initially expected, but they're also tracking the questions -- 300 so far -- people have, so they can better respond to insurance questions in the future.
“We’re laying the foundation for years to come,” says Cathay Keough, coordinator of reference services for Delaware’s Division of Libraries.
Approaches also vary from library to library and community to community. In Atlantic City, New Jersey, the library has a history of being active in responding to community events. Superstorm Sandy is one example.
“We were very prepared to help the community with stuff like that because they see us as a place to help with that information,” says Julie Senack, head of information and community education services at the Atlantic City Free Public Library. The library became a FEMA base, with people applying for assistance inside. Now, she says the library is applying those lessons to the Affordable Care Act rollout.
“Like with FEMA, the first thing we did with the Affordable Care Act was learn,” says Senack. “We don’t have to understand everything, we just need to understand how to get correct and accurate information and reach out to people who do know, and have them in our orbit.”
This story is part of a reporting partnership that includes WHYY, NPR and Kaiser Health News.
Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Thu, Feb 13 2014