Check here for information regarding current events, news and issues.
These authoritative links will help you find the best information in the
least amount of time. Topics are updated often, so bookmark this page.
Note: Although we have tried to provide sites that are current, the Internet is a constantly evolving resource. Therefore, there are no guarantees for the types of materials accessible via these sites.
The Affordable Care Act
HealthCare.Gov is the government’s Affordable Care Act website. The site was created as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the nation’s health reform law that was signed into effect in March of 2010. It offers new coverage options by creating Health Insurance Marketplaces with access to health insurance information and the opportunity to purchase health insurance. It also has a requirement (mandate) that individuals have health insurance.
Sign-up for individuals, families, and small business owners begins October 1, 2013 for health insurance coverage beginning January 1, 2014. Open enrollment ends March 31, 2014.
Get Covered Illinois is “The Official Health Marketplace” for the state of Illinois. It links to the federal HealthCare.Gov site and has information for Illinois residents.
Consumer Report'sHealth Law Helper is a customized, consumer-tested platform, which takes complex information and breaks it down into practical and useful nuggets for the average consumer. The tool has been designed to address a wide array of individual situations and circumstances.
Health Law Guide explains what the Affordable Care Act means for you and your family.
Health Law Answers is a tool that allows you a preview of options, based on information that you enter (state, gender, age, household, income, etc.). This section also includes fact sheets such as “Choosing a Health Care Plan: Coverage, Cost, Compare,” and “What the Health Care Law Means for Small Businesses.”
The Small Business Administration also publishes the blog “Health Care Business Pulse,” which you can subscribe to at SBA ACA Blog and a Twitter account, @SBAgov.
Lori Martin spoke at the library in October (2013) on the subject “Healthcare Reform & the Affordable Care Act: An Outline of the Exchanges and Medicare Updates.” Ms. Martin, President of Envision Benefit Specialists, is an independent insurance professional who represents all insurance carriers and serves as a resource in today's complex employee benefits industry. She strives to stay up-to-date on current insurance legislation and trends through association memberships, seminars, and continuing education classes, and she publishes an interesting, helpful blog “benefitsu,” which you can access at http://benefitsu.wordpress.com/.
IRS Affordable Care Act Tax Information clarifies many questions, such as whether there is a penalty for not having health insurance in 2014, and whether you can receive a tax credit for insurance that’s not purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Illinois Health Care Matters provides updates and resources about the Affordable Care Act's impact on various audiences in Illinois including individuals, small businesses, and community organizations.
The Healthcare.gov Glossary is a handy reference tool many with health insurance terms, such as ‘advanced premium tax credit,’ ‘Employer Shared Responsibility Payment,’ and ‘Qualifying Life Event.’
Wondering if a charity is legitimate? How do they use your donations? Check out these sites for answers that you can trust.
Building Better Charities
From the Illinois Attorney General, a list of charities registered in Illinois, information on wise donating, and reports on individual charities. You can also make a complaint about a charitable organization here.
One of the largest evaluators of national charities, Charity Navigator rates the financial health of charities, both in terms of day-to-day financial responsibility and the ability of the charity to be able to continue to offer help over time.
The American Philanthropic Association gives charities a letter grade based on financial criteria, including the percent of money given directly for programs. They also maintain a list of top-rated charities.
For Charities and Donors
A national charity list sponsored by the Better Business Bureau. The reports on the charities are thorough and impartial. There are also general giving tips and forms for making complaints.
General information about lead poisoning and common sources of lead in homes from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Trouble in Toyland
Annual report on hazardous items (choking hazards, noisy toys that could damage hearing, and toys that contain lead or other toxic chemicals) as well as tips for buying safe toys for kids.
Toy information from the Toy Industry Association including information on recent recalls.
These are the big three of online booking. All of the sites are well designed and easy to use. Check prices and book flights, hotels, rental cars, vacation packages and cruises and search for sales and deals. Tip: All of the major airlines and hotels also have their own online booking.
Rough Guide – Like the print books, good "off the beaten path" information is the Rough Guide's specialty.
Trip Advisor – Bed bugs? Fantastic coconut drinks? You can rate your trip and read the ratings of other travelers. Trip Advisor also has printable travel guides for selected destinations.
IgoUgo – Award-winning site now owned by Travelocity with reviews and photos covering more than 5,500 destinations.
Enjoy Illinois - What’s going on in Peoria this weekend? Attractive, well designed, and easy to use, the Illinois Bureau of Tourism site includes trip planners and brochures with information about many Illinois travel destinations.
Museum Adventure Pass – Receive free admission or a special discount at 17 unique Chicago area cultural destinations from the St. Charles Public Library.
The U.S. State Department – Need a passport? Wondering if it’s safe to go to Zimbabwe? A great starting place for the international traveler, with links to information and forms for passports and visas, travel warning notices, lists of U.S. embassies worldwide, and more.
Currency Converter – How many pesos in a dollar? The OANDA Currency Converter provides current exchange rates between most currencies.
Google Maps – Maps and driving directions for the USA and some international destinations. Includes satellite images and street views, where available. A new feature is transit maps for selected cities.
MapQuest – Also includes maps and driving directions for the USA and selected other countries. A new feature finds gas prices by address and plots the stations on a map and provides driving directions.