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Article published April 30, 2013
Simplified federal insurance forms released
WASHINGTON — After a storm of complaints, the Obama administration today unveiled simplified forms to apply for insurance under the new federal health care law. An earlier version of the forms had provoked widespread griping that they were as bad as tax forms and might overwhelm uninsured people, causing them to give up in frustration. The biggest change: a five-page short form that single people can fill out. That form includes a cover page with instructions and another page if you want to designate someone to help you through the process. But the abridged application form for families still runs to 12 pages, even if most households will not have to fill out every page. Most people are expected to take another option, applying online. The ease or difficulty of applying for benefits takes on added importance because Americans remain confused about what the health care law will mean for them. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released today found that 4 in 10 are unaware it’s the law of the land. Some think it’s been repealed by Congress. At his news conference today, President Barack Obama hailed the simplified forms as an example of how his team listened to criticism from consumer groups and made a fix. The applications will start becoming familiar to consumers less than six months from now, on Oct. 1, when new insurance markets open for enrollment in every state. They are not for people already signed up in their employer’s plan, only the uninsured.