Affordable Care Act
Libraries’ computers an option to apply
by Wes Mayer
(Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of articles focusing on the new Affordable Care Act and options for those seeking to apply for insurance through the federal marketplace at www.healthcare.gov .)
With enrollment via the Health Insurance Marketplace only open for 173 more days, those without Internet service may look to public libraries to apply for health coverage.
Following passage of the federal Affordable Care Act, open enrollment began Oct. 1 and will end March 31. Coverage can begin as soon as Jan. 1, and applications may be completed at www.healthcare.gov.
Some applicants might not have access to the Internet at home, but they are more than welcome to visit the free computers in the public libraries of Newnan and Coweta County. The five libraries in the county — the Newnan Carnegie and the Coweta Public Library System’s four branches — all have computers available for patrons.
The Newnan Carnegie Library at 1 LaGrange St. in downtown Newnan has eight computers, seven available in 30-minute periods and one available for one hour, which may be reserved in advance. According to Amy Mapel, director of the Carnegie, the library is only strict with those time limits if all the computers are occupied and people are waiting.
“Another potential plus is that patrons do not have to have a library card to use the computers,” Mapel said. “They just complete a one-time registration form.”
Mapel said that although they can’t guarantee patrons longer time on the computer, they can usually accommodate their needs. She said people come in all the time to apply for jobs or cell phones. Some times during the day, like early in the morning when the library opens, are less busier than others.
The Coweta Public Library System also has free computers available, and all patrons need is a library card or a guest card. According to Jimmy Bass, the director of libraries, the Central Library on Literary Lane in east Coweta and the A. Mitchell Powell Jr. branch in Newnan both have more than 20 computers for patrons to use. The Senoia and Grantville branches have between six and eight.
“We have a two-hour limit if we’re full,” Bass said. “But you can keep renewing your time.”
All the computers in the public libraries operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. Staff will be available to help patrons with the technical aspects of the computers, Bass said, but they have not been trained to help patrons with anything such as applying for health care. Bass also said anyone is welcome to bring their own laptops to the library to use their free WiFi service with no time limits.
If you are interested in enrolling via the Health Insurance Marketplace, there is a wealth of information available at www.healthcare.gov/how-can-i-get-ready-to-enroll-in-the-marketplace/.