Library will stay open until midnight on Monday, March 31 to enroll residents in health insurance available through the Affordable Care Act
The March 31 deadline for uninsured residents to enroll in one of the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace health plans is less than two weeks away and the Waukegan Public Library is planning to stay open until midnight that day to enroll as many residents as possible.
Out of 28 enrollment sites around Lake County, the Waukegan Public Library is one of the leading locations, signing up over 550 residents in health insurance since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was put into effect last October. The library is part of acounty-wide initiative to increase access to healthcare for Lake County residents called Enroll Lake County, headed by the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center and the Alliance for Human Services.
The Waukegan Public Library will be the only Lake County location open until the midnight deadline. Bilingual navigators will be available for scheduled appointments, group sessions, and drop-in enrollment. Under the ACA, every individual in the country must have insurance by midnight, or they will face a fine of $95 or 1% of their annual income. Those who miss the deadline will have to wait for the next enrollment period although there are exceptions made for life changes such as a birth in the family, the loss of a job or a divorce.
“As navigators we have been able to change the lives of so many of our community members who were uninsured and seeing the smile on their faces when they receive their new health insurance cards in the mail is priceless,” said Tatiana Alonso, Waukegan Public Library Promotora/Ambassador Coordinator and Affordable Care Act Navigator. “It is an honor to be able to provide this joy to so many families in our community.”
In addition to its commitment to helping residents obtain health insurance, the Library also offers a bilingual Functional Health Literacy Navigation class, which teaches Lake County residents about their right to be healthy, including healthy eating habits to prevent illness and how to build trust with medical caregivers. The class is paid for by the Building Bridges through Health Navigation grant funded by the Health Care Foundation of Northern Lake County in partnership with the Alliance for Human Services.
“Knowing how to navigate the health care system is essential to our community, especially when almost 72,000 Lake County adults are uninsured,” said Richard Lee, Waukegan Public Library Executive Director. “As a library, our mission is to ensure that our patrons have access to the information and resources that they need to be successful. When access to health care is a barrier to that success, we must do what we can to remove the obstacles. Health literacy has become one of our most important initiatives.”
Although navigators will be on hand to accommodate drop-ins, the library is encouraging individuals to make an appointment. Residents should bring identification, their most recent paycheck stub, and social security card. To make an appointment or get more information, contact Tatiana Alonso at (847) 623-2041, ext. 273 or talonso [at] waukeganpl [dot] info.
In addition to health insurance sign-ups, all regular library services will be available until midnight, including book and movie checkout, computer and internet access, and fax service.