HHS releases 'consumer-friendly' insurance applications

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has unveiled applications for consumers applying for policies sold through health insurance exchanges that are shorter and simpler than the proposed versions of the consumer applications.

Individuals applying for subsidies will complete a three-page form, which has been reduced from 21 pages, while individuals not requesting financial assistance will fill out a five-page application. All other consumers seeking insurance from exchanges, including families, will complete a 12-page, six-step application, which HHS said is two-thirds shorter than the originally proposed draft, according to an agency announcement.

"Consumers will have a simple, easy-to-understand way to apply for health coverage later this year," said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. She added that the "consumer-friendly" applications are "easier to use and significantly shorter than industry standards."

Since HHS significantly pared down the applications from the proposed versions, consumers hopefully won't be deterred from applying for coverage through exchanges by a bogged down, complicated application process. "These streamlined and shortened forms significantly improve the likelihood that large numbers of people will get enrolled and gain access to affordable health coverage," Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA said in a statement.

However, HHS was unable to completely remove all complex aspects of the applications. Consumers will, for example, still have to provide detailed income information, including tax returns, pay stubs and other financial records, so HHS can determine whether they qualify for government assistance, reported the Associated Press.

To learn more:
- here's the HHS announcement
- check out the Families USA statement
- see the Associated Press article