Waukegan Public Library pledges to educate Lake County residents on Affordable Care Act

Last week, the Waukegan Public Library was named one of 27partners of a county-wide initiative to increase access to healthcare for Lake County residents. This initiative, called Enroll Lake County, is headed by the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center and the Alliance for Human Services, and includes an $800,000 one-year grant by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Enroll Lake County brings together partners from a variety of community-based organizations including library networks, faith and civic groups, schools, business representatives, hospitals and primary care providers. Waukegan Public Library is one of 15 in-person counselor partners, and the only library in Lake County, who will receive sub-contracted funds from the grant to assist in educating and enrolling lake county residents in qualified health plans available with the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014 expanding insurance coverage to all adults, including free preventive care and no insurance denials for those with pre-existing conditions. However, many Americans know too little about the law to make informed decisions about the health of themselves and their families, and may be puzzled by the new options.

In September, as part of Enroll Lake County, the Waukegan Public Library will offer bilingual one-on-one and drop-in group sessions to determine health care eligibility and enroll adults in affordable health insurance. After enrolling, individuals will be given the option to register for the library’s existing 4-week bilingual Functional Health Literacy Navigation class, which teaches Lake County residents about their rights to be healthy, including healthy eating habits to prevent illness and how to build trust with medical caregivers. Functional Health Literacy Navigation 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 recent initiatives.”

If you are interested in registering for a one-on-one session with an in-person counselor (IPC) or enrolling in the Health Literacy program, call Tatiana Alonso at (847) 623-2041, ext. 273 for more information.