People who apply for health insurance through the U.S. government starting in October face a lot less red tape than anticipated.
The Obama administration cut the length of the 21-page application by as many as 18 pages to simplify the process for those looking to gain health coverage from the Affordable Care Act. The applications, posted online today by the government, are three pages for individuals and seven pages for families.
The administration is struggling to meet the Oct. 1 deadline for opening health insurance exchanges in all 50 states as some governors decline to cooperate and Republicans in Congress withhold funding. Drafts of the applications drew criticism from consumer advocacy groups such as Families USA that said the length would discourage people from signing up and become another setback for the law.
“We were concerned that it was long and cumbersome,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, which supports the health law. “It’s very important that the application and enrollment process is consumer-friendly so that as many people get enrolled as possible.”
The new forms ask people to provide basic personal information, including sources of income and dependents. An optional appendix lets people designate an agent such as an insurance broker to submit the application.
“The shorter, just-the-facts applications will help empower consumers to make the health-care decisions that are right for them, their families and their budget,” Anne Filipic, the president of Enroll America, a nonprofit group trying to educate consumers on the health law, said in a statement.
The health law is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to expand insurance coverage to about 27 million Americans who don’t get it through their jobs starting Jan. 1. Open enrollment for 2014 plans begins in October.
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