Applying for benefits under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul could be as daunting as doing your taxes.
The government's draft application runs 15 pages for a three-person family. An outline of the online version has 21 steps, some with additional questions.
Seven months before the Oct. 1 start of enrollment season for millions of uninsured Americans, the idea that getting health insurance could be as easy as shopping online at Amazon or Travelocity is starting to look like wishful thinking.
At least three major federal agencies, including the IRS, will scrutinize your application. Checking your identity, income and citizenship is supposed to happen in real time, if you apply online.
That's just the first part of the process, which lets you know if you qualify 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 premiums.
Once you're finished with the money part, actually picking a health plan will require additional steps, plus a basic understanding of insurance jargon.
And it's a mandate, not a suggestion. The law says virtually all Americans must carry health insurance starting next year, although most will just keep the coverage they now have through their jobs, Medicare or Medicaid.
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