NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Affordable Care Act Application Long and Cumbersome

March 18, 2013

Emerging new details about the application process for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) suggest that applying for benefits will be an onerous and grueling process. The rosiest of possibilities would liken getting health insurance under the ACA to shopping at your favorite online store. New details reveal that the application process, the product of red tape and bureaucracy, will be a hassle for applicants, says the Associated Press.

  • Insurance under the ACA is means-tested, meaning that the amount of benefits a person or family receives is based on his or her income.
  • To determine eligibility, the first part of the application process involves at least three major federal agencies that will scrutinize an applicant's identity, income and citizenship.
  • After the government has determined how much an applicant earns, additional steps must be taken to pick a health plan.

Understanding insurance jargon is a must for the next step and some fear that the complexities of the process will discourage a lot of uninsured people.

  • Besides being complex, completing the form will take a significant amount of time, which has led some advocates to call on the government to revise the application.
  • The cumbersome application form for insurance under the Affordable Care Act takes about 30 minutes to fill out online and about 45 minutes on paper.
  • Drafts of the paper application and a 60 page description were posted online for public comment.

With more than 60 pages in a description of the insurance application, the dream of the ACA bringing simplicity to health care is far from accomplished.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that it will receive an estimated 4.3 million applications for financial assistance in 2014, with 80 percent of those applications being filled out online.
  • If an applicant applies online, he or she should be able to receive instant eligibility, as the government cross-references an applicant with Social Security for birth records, IRS for income data and Homeland Security for immigration status.
  • An applicant who has had a recent change in employment status or income should be prepared to provide extra documentation.

Source: "Will Nation's Uninsured Get Lost in Long Application for Obama Health Care Plan?" Washington Post, March 12, 2013.


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