The 21-Page Health Exchange Application Form: Not A Burden

by Categorized: Consumer, Health Care Date:

Critics on the left as well as the right are panning the government’s proposed application forms for people seeking health insurance under the state exchanges, starting Oct. 1.

Too much work to fill out! Too Long! Too complicated! They said it would be as easy as buying something on Amazon!

Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense.  Yes, the forms look long at first glance — 21 pages for the basic paper form — but a determined sixth grader could fill them out in about the time it takes to watch back-to-back Sponge Bob episodes on Nickelodeon.

Click here to see the Health Exchange 21-page application

Finishing the task would take slightly more effort than watching cartoons, and that’s where the trouble starts.  Sadly, we are a nation stooping to the lowest common denominator of everything and apparently that holds true for the most important annual purchase that any family will make.

Simply put, the 21-page form is as simple as it can reasonably be, and anyone who can’t fill it out will get help.  It’s worth looking at, because Connecticut plans to use the federal version — states are allowed to design their own if they want — and because this whole flap about the complexity of the forms is nothing but political posturing by people who want Obamacare to go away, or to offer even more services to lazy Americans who now must exert a little bit of effort to deal with their well-being.

All of it is in plain language, with absolutely no need to calculate anything and then plug it in somewhere else to make further calculations, like we see in tax forms. None of that.  One page is a clear outline of what the form includes. Fully ten pages are devoted to information  about as many as five of the applicant’s family members who might need coverage as well.

One page asks if the applicant is a Native American; another asks whether he or she wants to designate an authorized representative to handle the insurance purchase; one full page is devoted to the applicant’s signature; and one page gives instructions.

In short, the form requires the average household to fill out about eight pages of information, much of it about income and their current health coverage. This makes sense because the form must determine whether people are eligible for Medicaid or the private insurance subsidy.

It’s only that long because it’s so easy to follow: Did you have your hours cut? Did you lose your job? Is there any other reason why your income is less than what our electronic record show? And so forth.

Still, you’d think the unit of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that devised the form had reinvented the IRS, to hear all the barbs being said about it.

You’d expect this drivel from opponents of Obamacare, who, after all, want it to go away altogether.  An editorial in the right-wing Washington Times is typical.  These are the same people, by the way, who would howl if the form left out questions about where the applicant is now getting health insurance — not always an easy answer — and whether the applicant has any investment income.

But we’re also seeing criticism from the left, in the form of Ron Pollack, head of the pro-Obamacare Families USA, who told the Associated Press, “This lengthy draft application will take a considerable amount of time to fill out and will be difficult for many people to be able to complete.” He added, correctly, that the form does not include the actual selection of an insurance plan — which itself will be a chore.

Pollack wants a simpler form, which is impossible, and he wants more help to be available, but there’s no evidence we’ll see a shortage of assistance when the signup period starts. In fact, the government has set aside tens of millions for that purpose, as much as $60 for each applicant in some states.

HHS also also issued a 60-page instruction manual for the online version of the form, and some of the same critics are blasting that as well. This is maddeningly idiotic, because most of that manual is a step-by-step explanation of how the online form will operate, not work that applicants will have to do.

Click here to see the Health Exchange Online Instructions

“The questionnaire contains all potential items that can be displayed on the online application,” the manual states. “Items will be displayed depending on applicants’ household and income situations, so applicants won’t be required to complete this entire list of items. Most applicants will need to complete less than one-third of these items.”

There are some trouble spots. One Louisiana senator doesn’t like that the form asks applicants if they are registered to vote, and links to a voter registration form if they’re not. He’s right — that’s sending a confusing message and brings in politics, though it would be nice to get more of the nation’s 50 million people who lack health coverage to also vote.

Another part of the form asks about race and ethnicity. It’s marked “optional,” and it clearly says the answers will not affect the applicant’s coverage, but it ought to say “you do not have to fill out this section.”

Those are fine points. We are talking about  a national effort to require every resident, every citizen, to have health insurance, a complicated product with an even more complicated financing system.

A nation that pays for more than half of this coverage asking people to spend an hour or two to help assure their own health is not too much. Grow up, America.











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7 thoughts on “The 21-Page Health Exchange Application Form: Not A Burden

  1. Dave

    The entire Obamacare system is a disaster. It will result in worse health care for everyone, higher premiums for everyone and kill jobs.

    Stop apologizing for the horrible forms. Know this, it will only get worse.

  2. Middle Class Joe

    Eligible Immigration Status list:
    Use to answer question about eligible immigration status.
    • Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR/Greencard holder)
    • Asylee
    • Refugee
    • Cuban/Haitian Entrant
    • Paroled into the U.S.
    • Conditional Entrant Granted before 1980
    • Battered Spouse, Child and Parent
    • Victim of Traficking and his/her Spouse, Child, Sibling or Parent
    • Granted Withholding of Deportation or Withholding of Removal, under the immigration laws and under the
    Convention against Torture (CAT)
    • Individual with Non-immigrant Status (includes worker visas, student visas, and citizens of Micronesia, the Marshall
    Islands, and Palau)
    • Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Applicant for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
    • Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)
    • Deferred Action Status
    • Applicant for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
    • Applicant for Adjustment to LPR Status, with Approved Visa Petition
    • Applicant for Asylum
    • Applicant for Withholding of Deportation or Withholding of Removal, under the immigration laws or under the
    Convention against Torture (CAT)
    • Registry Applicants (with EAD)
    • Order of Supervision (with EAD)
    • Applicant for Cancellation of Removal or Suspension of Deportation (with EAD)
    • Applicant for Legalization under IRCA (with EAD)
    • Legalization under the LIFE Act (with EAD)
    • Lawful Temporary Resident

    Huh? They need to know all this for health insurance?

  3. Bob Fortier

    “You may qualify for a free or low-cost program even if you
    earn as much as $92,000 a year (for a family of 4).” So this is what we are paying for? possibly “free” insurance for someone making $92K a year? Dan, sorry, but you are way out of your league on this one. I have been in the insurance business for 30 years. There is no need for 21 pages to get “guaranteed” health insurance. Also, I find it very irritation to think that my wife and I who may make similar income should should have to subsidise someone in the same category as us, just because they “chose” to have two children. But of course you have most of your insurance paid for by your employer. Many of us already pay 100% for our insurance, and now have to subsidise some dude making almost $100K? YOu have lost all credibility as a thinking journalist. It is apparent you have joined Team OBama. And you wonder why your subscriptions are down. I grew up with Courant boxes infront of most homes. Now…I hardly see any.

  4. MrLogical

    “…though it would be nice to get more of the nation’s 50 million people who lack health coverage to also vote.”

    Why? So they can vote for the party that offers more ‘free stuff’?

    Democrats will stop at nothing to recruit and register more low-information voters to support the party of ‘free stuff’ at the polls.

    Can you imagine the howls that would be coming from the halls of congress and the anti-Republican vitriol on the evening news each night if the Republicans had done something like this?

  5. MrLogical

    If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until Obamacare is in full bloom.

    Add 40-50 million more people to the rolls of the insured and our overall healthcare costs are going to go down? And I can keep my doctor? (Assuming he decides to keep practicing medicine.) Shortage of doctors now? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

    Dan, you need to stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

    You’re embarrassing yourself.

  6. HB

    Dan, 21 pages is too much.

    When I signed up for health insurance at work, the form was a page and a half, max.
    I also tried to sign up for an individual health insurance plan last year, and the forms from the private insurer were at least 15 pages, filled with intrusive personal questions about my past medical history, many of which I no longer had the information for (Exact dates of illnesses and the Doctors who treated me).

    If Obamacare is to be successful, they need to aim for the page-and-a-half application. If the insurance industry can do it for group health insurance, why not the federal government?

  7. clay b

    What a disaster. One grand scheme to provide free health care insurance to illegal aliens and to all the deadbeats who don’t want to work and do drugs all day. Millions upon millions of hard working people are going to get lay off notices or be dropped off the current health care plans. Reality is, we were all lied too, there is nothing affordable at all about the affordable health care act. It is ONLY affordable to non-resident aliens and deadbeat drug heads.

Comments are closed.