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Affordable Care Act & Health Insurance Marketplace: Health Insurance Basics

Information and resources for library staff about the Affordable Care Act and health insurance enrollment

About Health Insurance

Helping Consumers Understand and Use Health Insurance in 2014

Participants in the Collaborative on Health Literacy and Access, Health Care Coverage, and Care of the Institute Of Medicine Roundtable on Health Literacy have prepared a paper that presents basic information that can be used to help people understand their health insurance options. The paper is a resource for those who will be helping consumers make important decisions; including patient navigators, community organizations, employers, media, educators, and any individual or organization working to improve understanding of options for health insurance.  16 pages.

Questions for Consumers and Providers About Health Insurance

Medical care is expensive, so having health insurance is critical to helping us get and pay for the care we need. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) contains provisions designed to increase the number of insured in the United States, yet most Americans do not understand how the ACA will affect them and their options for health insurance. The ACA is broad, has many components, and is hard to understand. The authors of this discussion paper believe it is critical for both health care providers and consumers to be able to answer the four basic questions addressed in this paper (15 pages) and the accompanying video, slides, and consumer guide (22 pages):

  1.  What are my choices for health insurance?
  2. How do I get it?
  3. How do I use it?
  4. How much will it cost me?

Best Health Insurance, Ratings & Reviews: Consumer Reports

Information about choosing health insurance, Medicare, and the upcoming changes due to health care reform.

Health Insurance:

Learn about your health insurance options. Get information about private insurance plans, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs to help you pay for your medical expenses.

Recommended Sites about Health Insurance

 From NC Health Info, a service of the Health Sciences Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Health Insurance:  MedlinePlus

A comprehensive collection of resources about health insurance and the healthcare reform.  A service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

NC Health Insurance Resources

Smart NC: North Carolina Department of Insurance

The North Carolina Department of Insurance developed Health Insurance Smart NC to help North Carolinians better understand their options and rights related to health insurance.  If you need help finding health insurance or resolving a dispute with your insurer, or if you want to find out more about what the new health care law means to you, contact Health Insurance Smart NC.

Medicaid:  NC Division of Medical Assistance

Medicaid is a health insurance program for low-income individuals and families who cannot afford health care costs. Medicaid serves low-income parents, children, seniors, and people with disabilities.

Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP)

SHIIP counsels Medicare beneficiaries and caregivers about Medicare, Medicare supplements, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D, and long-term care insurance. The counselors on the toll-free line offer free and unbiased information regarding Medicare health care products. The program also helps people recognize and prevent Medicare billing errors and possible fraud and abuse through our NC SMP Program.  SHIIP is a program of the NC Department of Insurance.

Additional Insurance Resources

Indian Health Service

The Indian Health Service (IHS), an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for providing federal health services to American Indians and Alaska Natives.  The IHS is the principal federal health care provider and health advocate for Indian people and provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for American Indians and Alaska Natives who are members of 566 federally recognized Tribes across the U.S.


TRICARE is managed under policy guidance and direction from the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs).  As a major component of the Military Health System, TRICARE combines the health care resources of the uniformed services with networks of civilian health care professionals, institutions, pharmacies and suppliers to provide access to high-quality health care services while maintaining the capability to support military operations.  Also, check out the listings at NC Health Info for more about TRICARE.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs is the primary agency managing benefits for veterans of the U.S. Armed Services, including health care, benefits, and burials & memorials.  Also, check out the listings at NC Health Info for more about Veterans health issues.