Application for Health Insurance under Affordable Care Act
Draft Application for Health Insurance: 21 Pages Long
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released a draft of the application for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). The application is 21 pages long. Its instructions are even longer at no less than 61 pages.
While the HHS has not yet released an online version of the application for health insurance, it has released a description of the online application. That description is 60 pages long.
The government estimates the paper version of the application will take an average of 45 minutes to complete. The online version will take an average of 30 minutes. But this does not include all the time to gather the records needed to complete the forms.
While the draft application will surely be modified before the health benefit exchanges open on October 1, 2013, one thing is certain: filling out this form will be burdensome for many people. Keeping organized will be key to completing it.
Contents of the Draft Application for Health Insurance
The 21-page application is daunting, but many people will be able to skip parts of it.
Page 1 merely lists "Things to know". There are no blanks to complete.
Page 2 asks for basic information about the person completing the application.
Pages 3 - 14 ask for information about each of up to six family members, with two pages for each person. Thus, a single person will need to complete only two of these 12 pages, while a family of four will need to complete eight. The form asks if each person plans to file a federal income tax return next year, if the person is applying for health insurance, if the person has a job, and what income the person expects to receive from various sources. For many people, the most difficult part of completing the form will be to provide the income information, especially for people with variable income and for people who receive income from multiple sources.
Pages 15 - 16 ask for information about the family's health insurance. Most of these questions ask about health coverage offered by a job to any of the family members. Any other sources of health insurance are also solicited.
Page 17 applies only to family members that are American Indian or Alaskan Native. Anyone who doesn't fall within one of these classifications skips to the next page.
Page 18 is the signature page, page 19 asks for representative information, page 20 provides some instructions and page 21 is provided for employees to ask their employers for information.
The Online Application will Streamline the Process
The online application will streamline the process of applying for healthcare. For example, the online application will automatically skip over the pages asking about non-existent family members, or job-related information for family members who are not employed. Thus, most people will only need to answer a subset of the questions.
Keeping Organized will be Key to Completing the Application
Keeping organized will be key to completing the application in a timely and efficient manner. For most people, the most difficult questions to answer will be those relating to their expected income from their jobs and other sources. People with relatively constant incomes will be able to refer to their latest tax returns for accurate estimates. But people such as entrepreneurs whose incomes fluctuate markedly from year-to-year will find it much more burdensome to estimate their expected incomes.