The application forms for individuals and families to apply for health insurance benefits have been published. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the final applications this week after receiving public input. These forms will be found at www.healthcare.gov on October 1, 2013 when individuals and families can start applying for benefits. Those benefits will begin January 1, 2014.
CMS released three application forms: one for individuals, one for individuals who are not looking for financial assistance, and one for families. The applications were shortened in length so the ones for individuals are three pages plus appendices, and the family application is six pages plus appendices. The application can be completed online, by phone (through a call center) or printed and mailed in. We don’t know if all three applications will be displayed online or if only one will be displayed and then modified based on the type of applicant.
The opening page of the application packet specifies what the application is for, who can use it, how it can be accessed, what is needed to apply and why that information is needed, what happens next, and how to get help with the application.
The applicant is then asked to complete a variety of questions relating to their household demographics, including residency information, employment, income and any access to insurance they currently have. One of the appendices request specifics about the applicant’s access to health insurance and requires information on their employer and benefit plan.
After the application is completed, it must be printed, signed and sent in for processing. The applicant is informed that they will then be contacted in 1-2 weeks for further instructions. We are not yet sure what, if any, next steps the applicant will be required to take next or how this application will interface with the state’s ACCESS database, which is where individuals in Wisconsin go now to apply for Medicaid benefits. Both state and federal officials have maintained that this will be a streamlined and consumer-friendly process.
The application packet references a call center (whose number is not yet public) and the www.healthcare.gov website which applicants can access for assistance or additional information. Locally, advocates and community-based organizations will likely be helping individuals with the application process. If you are working with uninsured individuals or for those who are interested in learning more about healthcare reform and its provisions, healthcare.gov is a great place to start. As always, CKF can be contacted to provide clarification and answer questions as well.
The CMS forms can be viewed here: chttp://cciio.cms.gov/resources/other/index.html#hie