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Guide Content | Chapter 2: Improving Quality and Accessibility

Program Spotlight: The Affordable Care Act: Through the Life Course

Western States Genetic Services Collaborative

Synopsis:

The Affordable Care Act: Through the Life Course is an online resource launched in October 2013 by the Western States Genetic Services Collaborative (WSGSC) (http://www.westernstatesgenetics.org/). The site was developed by WSGSC staff with the goal of providing easy to understand information on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how it affects people at different stages of life. Specific information on the ACA is provided for individuals at life stages such as starting a small business, becoming pregnant, having a baby that has received a newborn screening test, having a child with special needs, having a chronic disease, and more. Local and regional stakeholder groups from Alaska, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington provided important feedback on the design and function of the site. Groups including Family Voices, Family-to-Family Health Information Centers, and state Maternal Child Health sections were consulted to provide input on how best to fit the needs of the target population. The tool has been widely promoted as a go-to resource on the ACA for consumers, healthcare providers, and public health workers.

The Western States Genetic Services Collaborative (WSGSC) is a multi-state project that seeks to coordinate and increase access to genetic services among our states and territory. The participating states and territory are: Alaska, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Activities aim to improve the health of children with disorders detected by the newborn screening blood test, birth defects and other genetic disorders. The project is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Genetic Services Branch.


Sharing Lessons Learned

What are the benefits and unique features of the site?

We tried to keep the website accessible and family-friendly. Using HRSA’s “through the life course” approach and drawing inspiration from Milton Bradley’s Game of Life, the ACA website resembles a board game with a circular path containing thirteen boxes. Each box in the online “path of life” represents a life event, such as a pregnancy or losing a job, and each box is linked to ACA information specific to that life event. Within the middle of the path of life is a town square filled with buildings. Each of these buildings is linked to additional ACA information.

The website is colorful, and all information is written at a 7-9th grade reading level. More complex words, such as “deductible” and “health insurance mandate” are linked to an online glossary. As suggested by our Family Advocates, the site also includes a “Share Your Story” button that leads users to an online survey where people can share their personal stories.

What do you see as the benefits of engaging stakeholders when developing a resource?

Getting feedback from our stakeholders was instrumental. The website changed substantially as a result of the suggestions we received from our collaborators. Many of the comments focused on how to simplify the website to make it easier to use and navigate. Other comments suggested changes to improve the format, reading level, and understandability of the information presented. Engaging and listening to our stakeholders resulted in a final product that is vastly better than it would have been had we skipped this important step.

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