Covered California consumers can now use a quality rating system when choosing a health care plan  is the latest big news about the state's Affordable Care Act insurance market site. Reading the full story shows there is some real substance behnd the headline:
- The scoring comes from the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems 
- Input for the scoring derives from consumers of each healthcare plan, who were asked about features ranging from ease of getting doctor appointments to medical care and customer service
- The availability of such a scoring system is a requirement of ACA's rollout, but this one isn't a required accomplishment at the state level until 2016, so California is actually way ahead of schedule and plans to continue to tweak it as more data becomes available
- Each healthcare plan offered through Covered California is assessed and rated according to how it stacks up against all such plans offered throughout the Western United States, so comparison evaluation outstrips the in-state options
- And the rating is expressed with a four-star shorthand, with four stars indicating the plan is in the top quartile of the plans evaluated, three stars indicating the plan is as good as those ranking between 50% and 75% on the scale of 100% satisfaction, two stars for the third quartile (25%-50%) and one star for those with the bottom quartile ranking
This kind of information can also serve as a reminder that healthcare and health insurance are huge areas of literacy need. Using the Affordable Care Act's requirements to design both adult and family literacy directions and programming can provide high value to your community. Learning to understand the "insurance speak" of co-pyay and deductibles, and the math understanding required to make judicious use of aligning this quality rating system with affordability are just two literacy training areas to consider. Like other aspects of the laws and regulations around ACA, the public library's potential to demystify and educate can be parlayed into demonstrating the high value of the library itself to your community.