Health Reform Resources

The Affordable Care Act: Outreach and Enrollment

Open Enrollment Season for the Health Insurance Marketplace Starts Nov. 15th

The US Department of Health and Human Services is committed to helping community leaders and consumers understand and navigate the Health Insurance Marketplace that was created through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Whether you are sharing information with your employees or the clients you serve, or if you yourself would like to learn more about your options, there are resources available to help you.

To get the latest, most accurate information about the Marketplace, visit HealthCare.gov. At this website, people can learn how the Marketplace works, who can apply for insurance, how to lower costs, and how to apply and enroll in a health plan. There are helpful checklists and videos.

The Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period begins November 15, 2014 and ends on February 15, 2015. For people enrolled by December 15th, their coverage will be effective January 1, 2015.

With a single application, consumers can find out if they qualify for Medicare or the Children’s Health Insurance program, or if they are eligible for savings to lower health insurance premiums. All plans in the Marketplace cover essential health benefits and pre-existing conditions.

For more information about the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit www.HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596. You can also visit Localhelp.healthcare.gov to find help in your area.

For coverage starting in 2015, the Open Enrollment Period is November 15, 2014 - February 15, 2014. Individuals may also qualify for Special Enrollment Periods outside of Open Enrollment if they experience certain events. LSA is committed to supporting our members in their outreach and enrollment activities, and to helping people engage with health care reform. This page is updated as new resources become available, and we invite you to check back regularly! 

If you have questions, would like to learn what might be happening in your area, or would like to tell us what you're doing to prepare, contact Lindsey Copeland, LSA's Director of  Public Polic and Advocacy, at 202-499-5832 or lcopeland@lutheranservices.org.

Start Here - Learn These Four Basics

1. Know This Key Term: Marketplace. Each state has its own online hub where individuals and families can shop for and purchase health insurance coverage called a Marketplace. At the Marketplace, individuals, families, and small businesses can learn about their health coverage options; compare health insurance plans based on costs, benefits, and other important features; choose a plan; and enroll in coverage. The Marketplace also will provide information on programs that help people with low to moderate income and resources pay for coverage.

2. Know This Key Date: November 15. For coverage that begins in 2015, the Open Enrollment Period is November 15, 2014 - February 15, 2014.  To buy insurance outside of Open Enrollment, you must qualify for a Special Enrollment Period due to a qualifying life event such as marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or loss of a job. Learn more here.

3. Know Your State. In some states, the Marketplace is run by the state. In other states, it is run by the federal government. To learn what kind of Marketplace is operating in your state, click here. After you select your state from the dropdown list, the website will tell you where to go for more information about your Marketplace. (If your state is setting up its own Marketplace, then you will refer to your state for resources; in the rest of the states, the resources at healthcare.gov will work best for you.)

4. Know The Basics of How The Law Works. This 7-minute video, produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation and narrated by Charlie Gibson of ABC News, is a great primer on the basics of the law, especially how coverage will be expanded to different populations. Use this video to educate yourself and others.

From Coverage to Care

Now that many people have enrolled in health insurance coverage, it is important for them - and all of us - to make the most of that coverage. From Coverage to Care is an initiative to help people with new health care coverage understand their benefits and connect to primary care and the preventive services that are right for them, so they can live a long and healthy life. There are many new resources available to help people on this journey from from coverage to care. Share this information about local resources during your conversations, to help individuals know where and how to access care in your community.

Things Faith and Community Leaders Can Do

The HHS Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is a great source of ideas for how faith and community leaders can help connect members of their congregations and communities to the care and resources they need.

  1. Check out the Affordable Care Act resource page, which includes many materials, including a Health Care Law Toolkit for Faith and Community-Based Organizations. 
  2. Have congregational and community leaders and members participate in educational webinars, and then educate others. The HHS Partnership Center webinars can be found here. Training materials can be found here.
  3. Sign up to receive updates on the Health Insurance Marketplace at www.HealthCare.gov, www.CuidadoDeSalud.gov and http://marketplace.cms.gov.
  4. Include a website badge on how to access health insurance on your organization’s website. Badges can be found here. Badges are also available in Spanish, and each links to www.healthcare.gov.
  5. Re-post information from the www.HealthCare.gov Facebook page to your organization’s Facebook page. Go to www.HealthCare.gov or www.CuidadoDeSalud.gov for more information.

With questions to comments, you can email the HHS Partnership Center at Partnerships@hhs.gov or call them at 202-358-3595.

Additional Resources

Resources for Pastors...

Educate Yourself and Others With Online Videos. A few simple and short videos are available that can be helpful tools for those who might get questions about health coverage, such as pastors, church staff and social workers. These videos explain things like how to sign up for coverage, what the Health Insurance Marketplace is, the value of health insurance, and stories of people who don’t have health insurance but who will be helped by the health care law. For more video resources, check out this entire YouTube channel.

Toolkit for Faith and Community Leaders. Many faith and community leaders are now helping people learn about the Health Insurance Marketplace. One important resource available to faith and community-based organizations is a toolkit prepared by the HHS Partnership Center. This toolkit will help faith and community leaders learn and educate others about the health care law. These materials can be used as bulletin inserts, at enrollment events and for other education and outreach efforts. Click here for the toolkit.

Resources for Individuals and Families...

Check Out Your Coverage Options at Healthcare.gov. The next Open Enrollment Period for the Health Insurance Marketplace begins on November 15, 2014.  Whether you are currently enrolled in the Marketplace or still need to get covered, go to healthcare.gov to see what options for coverage you may have. Questions? Call 1-800-318-2596, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325.

Resources for Social Ministry Organizations and Congregations...

Promote Insurance Coverage Using Variety of Simple Resources and Tools. The federal government is making available a variety of official resources that can help organizations and congregations connect people to the benefits of health reform. Follow this link to a webpage of resources you can use, including customizable outreach materialsprovider toolkits, and much more.

Become a "Champion for Coverage". National, state and local organizations are eligible to become Champions for Coverage. By signing up to be a Champion for Coverage, organizations agree to do what they can - large or small - to spread the word about ways people can connect to coverage. To be publically recognized as an official Champion for Coverage, fill out this online form. If you have questions, you can send an email to champion@cms.hhs.gov.

Become a Certified Application Counselor Organization. Faith-based and community organizations can help Americans get enrolled in health insurance. If your organization is interested in training your staff and volunteers to assist people in applying for health insurance coverage and you are in one of the 34 states where the federal government is operating the Marketplace, you can apply to be a Certified Application Counselor (CAC) organization. (Unfortunately, there is no federal funding available for organizations who apply to be CACs.) For more information on the CAC program, go here. For applications to apply to become a CAC, go here. A CAC organization toolkit is available here.

Webinars and Workshops About the Health Care Law...

Webinars for Faith and Community Leaders on the Health Care Law. The Deaprtment of Health and Human Services' Partnership Center continues to host a series of webinars for faith and community leaders. All webinars are open to the public and include a question and answer session. To participate in one of the webinars, click on this list and select the webinar you'd like to attend. Please email ACA101@hhs.gov  if you have problems registering or if you have any questions about the health care law. All webinars are one hour.

The next webinar, Getting Ready to Enroll: Health Insurance Marketplace 101 will be held on October 29, from 3:00 - 4:00 PM Eastern.   This presentation will discuss how to enroll in the Marketplace, key web sites and resources, and how to host an enrollment event.  More information, including how to register and participate, is available here.

Additional Resources...

Immigrant Eligibility Under the ACA. Check out this guide from the National Immigrant Law Center to review immigrant eligibility for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

AARP Offers Many Free Educational Resources on the Health Care Law. AARP has established several free online resources that help explain how the Affordable Care Act affects U.S. citizens of all ages and income levels; and small business owners:

  1. An online guide to the health care law, which contains information and resources on how the health care law affects individuals and their families; accessing preventive care; Medicare; small businesses; and enrolling in the best possible plan. This resource is also offered in Spanish.
  2. The Health Care Law Answers page walks users through a set of questions that will help give information on how the health care law uniquely affects the individual and their family. This resource is also offered in Spanish.
  3. The Doughnut Hole Calculator helps users figure out if they can save money in the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole" by switching to lower cost, therapeutically similar medications.
  4. Free downloadable resources such as fact sheets, presentations, and banner ads.
  5. Many free webinars on topics such as, "The Health Care Law: How it Works for You and Your Family," and "The Health Care Law: What it Means for People with Medicare."

Infographics on the Health Care Law. HHS continues to produce infographics on the health care law. Please go here to see them all. 

LSA Health Care Reform Webinar Series

November 18, 2013
Health Care Reform: Outreach and Enrollment 101

This webinar touched on the latest updates about outreach, enrollment and resources from a representative of the Department of Health and Human Services. We also heard about the experiences of a Lutheran Services in America member organization, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry in Cleveland, Ohio, that is working with the uninsured in its community on outreach and enrollment. 

October 24, 2013
How Health Reform Affects Seniors, Kids and Those with Mental Health Needs

Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment began on October 1, and with all the focus on the uninsured, many still have questions about how health reform impacts other populations. Three national experts apoke about what the ACA means for seniors, children, and those with mental health needs.

September 25, 2013
Get Ready for Health Care Reform: What Employers Need to Know

We've cut through the noise to focus on how proposed regulations will affect your organization with Heather Meade, a health law expert from Washington Council Ernst and Young. This webinar covered employer requirements — including reporting, the health care exchanges, insurance mandates — and upcoming deadlines. Download the resources below:

If you have questions, would like to learn what might be happening in your area, or would like to tell us what you're doing to prepare, contact Lindsey Copeland, LSA's Director of  Public Policy and Advocacy, at 202-499-5832 or lcopeland@lutheranservices.org.