Starting January 1, 2014, ObamaCare mandates that you obtain health insurance coverage. This is not a suggestion. The law says virtually all Americans must carry health insurance, although most will just keep the coverage they now have through their jobs, Medicare or Medicaid. To obtain insurance you have two ways to apply–paper form and online. The paper forms are up to 15 pages long. Applying online won’t be much easier. It involves 21 steps, some with additional questions, and that’s even before you pick a specific health plan. Drafts of the paper application and a 60-page description of the online version were quietly posted online by the Health and Human Services Department, seeking feedback from industry and consumer groups. An advantage of applying online is that you could get a real time verification of your identity, income, and citizenship or immigration status. Regardless of which type of application you decide to complete, your application will be looked at by at least three federal agencies:
However, you will not be asked to fill out a medical questionnaire–a safeguard to make sure sick people pay the same premiums as healthy ones. Verification of your income is an important step in qualifying for financial help. The government asks to see what you’re making because Obama’s Affordable Care Act is means-tested, with lower-income people getting the most generous help to pay for their premiums. Once you’re finished with the money part, then you have to pick a health plan, plus you need to have a basic understanding of insurance jargon. Open enrollment starts October 1, 2013–good luck! See the Insurance Affordability Application package at CMS.org.