The Obama White House listened. On Tuesday, it unveiled a much-improved application form for those seeking insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The first version triggered howls about its length and complexity. Now the form for a single person has been boiled down to five pages. The family form starts at 12 pages, or roughly half the length of the original. (There will be an online version, too.)
Know that applying for private insurance hardly is a model of simplicity. What the president and his team want is credit for responding swiftly and effectively to concerns. This won’t be the last time they will be required to do so.
As the president emphasized in his news conference last week, the implementation of the new health-care regimen promises many bumps along the way. From the outset, this has been framework, the details written and reshaped as experience and circumstances dictate.
Worth emphasizing is that most Americans will see little difference, their coverage continuing through their employer, or through Medicare or Medicaid. The challenge rests with those who buy insurance on their own or do not have coverage and must comply with the mandate. In the main, they will buy coverage through an online exchange, in Ohio operated by the federal government at the choice of Gov. John Kasich.
Subsidies will be available to many people. That explains the need for the application form, the federal government in need of financial information to make sound decisions about eligibility.
No doubt the process can be complex and intimidating. That helps explain the disappointment in the Statehouse refusing to supplement the funding of “navigators” to guide people through the purchasing process. This big and crucial task now falls more heavily on nonprofits, advocacy groups and others, alert to polls showing that 4 in 10 people are unaware of the new law. For the effort to succeed, mobilization must complement listening.