ObamaCare Unveils Simplified Forms, as Poll Shows Many Americans Still Confused

A recent poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicated that 4 out of 10 individuals believe ObamaCare has not been signed into law.  In addition, of those who do understand that ObamaCare is a law that takes effect in 2014, 5 out of 10 indicated they did not understand what ObamaCare will mean for their family.

These results were released at the same time the Obama administration published simplified forms for use under ObamaCare, in response to previous criticism from consumers that the old forms were too confusing.

The new forms are 5 pages for individuals and 12 pages for families, although those page counts include instruction pages as well as several pages that many may not have to fill out depending on their situation.

Most consumers will first see the forms when enrollment in insurance benefits for 2014 opens on October 1.  But those consumers who have insurance benefits through their job will not have to complete the ObamaCare forms, only those individuals and families who are uninsured.

Under ObamaCare, individuals and families who do not receive insurance coverage through their employers will be able to purchase insurance through a private insurance company.  In addition, ObamaCare guarantees insurance coverage for those who are already ill at the same rates as healthy applicants.

Many middle-class applicants whose income levels qualify will receive tax credits under the program in an effort to make purchasing of insurance more affordable.  Low-income applicants will generally be directed to Medicaid or other governmental coverage programs.

The benefits of ObamaCare to the uninsured will go into effect on January 1.  Experts estimate that ObamaCare will provide insurance coverage to approximately 30 million Americans who do not presently have insurance benefits.

Although initial feedback from consumer groups indicates the shortened forms are an improvement, the forms still require that applicants provide a significant amount of information about their income from all sources.  The application process also requires various documentation to prove an applicant’s income level, including paystubs and tax returns.

Under ObamaCare, it is necessary to gather income information in order to determine if a given individual or family qualifies for the program.

“There has got to be a balance between getting adequate (financial) information to make sure everybody gets the help they’re entitled to under the law, while at the same time trying to keep the process consumer-friendly,” said Ron Pollack, the executive director of Families USA who supports the program but was critical of the initial version of the forms.

The forms can be completed online and will automatically route an applicant to the appropriate insurance provider, whether a private insurance provider or Medicaid.  Once the application is complete, the system is intended to automatically verify the applicant’s identity, citizenship, immigration status, and income level by interfacing with other governmental agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the Internal Revenue Service.

“Consumers will have a simple-easy to understand way to apply for health coverage later this year,” noted Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner, who is responsible for the rollout of ObamaCare.  Tavenner noted that the updates forms are “significantly shorter than industry standards.”

by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.