— Con: If your household income has changed in the past year or so and you want help paying your premiums, be prepared to do some extra work. You're applying for help based on your expected income in 2014. But the latest tax return the IRS would have is for 2012. If you landed a better-paying job, got laid off, or your spouse went back to work, you'll have to provide added documentation.
— Pro: Even with all the complexity, the new system could still end up being simpler than what some people go through now to buy their own insurance. You won't have to fill out a medical questionnaire, although you do have to answer whether or not you have a disability. Even if you are disabled, you can still get coverage for the same premium a healthy person of your age would pay.
—Con: If anyone in your household is offered health insurance on the job but does not take it, be prepared for some particularly head-scratching questions. For example: "What's the name of the lowest cost self-only health plan the employee listed above could enroll in at this job?"
HHS spokeswoman Erin Shields Britt said in a statement the application is a work in progress, "being refined thanks to public input."
It will "help people make apples-to-apples comparisons of costs and coverage between health insurance plans and learn whether they can get a break in costs," she added.
But what if you just want to buy health insurance in your state's exchange, and you're not interested in getting any help from the government?
You'll still have to fill out an application, but it will be shorter.
Online — Insurance Affordability Application package: http://tinyurl.com/akkvu9f
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