Evanston Public Library connects residents to Affordable Care Act resources

Jake Holland, Assistant City Editor

Affordable Care Act navigator Laura Jones Macknin has worked with Evanston Public Library for over a year, and said she has altered outreach and marketing efforts this year due to a shorter ACA open enrollment period.

Open enrollment, which started Nov. 1 and runs until Dec. 15, is shorter than in previous years, when it lasted until late January. The shorter time frame means Macknin, who works for Patient Innovation Center — an advocacy-based health care nonprofit — has had to change her strategies to reach more people.

“We’re doing much more aggressive marketing and outreach because it’s such a short period,” Macknin said.

Macknin, who helps with local outreach at places like EPL and Presence Saint Francis Hospital, educates Cook County residents about their options for health care enrollment. She said she helps residents enroll in both Medicaid and private health insurance.

Though Congress didn’t repeal the ACA this summer, Macknin said there has been “so much back-and-forth” in the media that some people are confused as to whether enrollment is still available to them.

“The messaging has just been so confusing,” she said. “There have been some changes (to the ACA), but they’ve been administrative.”

Among the changes, Macknin said, is the closure of the online health insurance marketplace — for three of the six Sundays of the open enrollment period, the portal will be down for maintenance.

Patient Innovation Center has started looking for ways to use those Sundays so they’re “not completely wasted,” but in the meantime has tried to partner with a greater number of outreach sites, Macknin said.

“If you believe that insurance is important — which I do — outreach can be a lifesaver,” Macknin said.

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