Navigating health insurance can be a difficult and confusing process for even the most experienced of us. For someone who has never had insurance before and never needed to navigate the health care system, it can be overwhelming. A patient cannot benefit from having insurance if they do not understand their benefits, or how to access services. This includes people who are unsure of where to go for services, how to make an appointment, or how to prepare for their visit with a health care provider.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services oversees the From Coverage 2 Care initiative. This initiative aims to help people with new health care coverage to understand their benefits and connect with primary care and preventative services to improve their health. They offer an 8-step resource guide for patients including sections, “Know Where to go for Care,” with the companion consumer tool “Differences Between Your Provider’s Office and the Emergency Department, ” “Make an Appointment,” and “Next Steps After Your Appointment,” among others. These resources are all available in English and Spanish. They also offer an 11-part series of videos covering the same topics that are available to watch online or download. These are also offered in both English and Spanish. These From Coverage 2 Care resources and additional promotional materials, sample tweets, and badges are available at: https://marketplace.cms.gov/technical-assistance-resources/c2c.html.
Additionally, CMS has supplemental information for special populations, including glossaries in multiple languages, list of substance abuse and mental health services and providers, tools on enrollment for immigrants and refugees, multimedia resources and more. View the list of categories and select by topic here: https://marketplace.cms.gov/outreach-and-education/outreach-and-education.html.
CMS has more than just consumer health tools, they also offer a large collection of technical assistance resources on eligibility, enrollments, tax credits, exemptions, training materials for navigators and much more. Available at: https://marketplace.cms.gov/technical-assistance-resources/technical-assistance-resources.html.
The Internal Revenue Service also offers a guide on the tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act titled, “Health Care Law: What’s New for Individuals and Families.” It includes a list of forms and publications that can be used for preparing a tax return, as well as a glossary of terms, information about qualifying for an exemption and the new premium tax credit. It is available in several languages and can be found at: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p5187.pdf.
Dana Abbey, MLS
Health Information Literacy Coordinator, National Network of Libraries of Medicine