Countdown to Obamacare

03.14.13

Applying for Obamacare Subsidies Will Be as Complicated as Doing Your Taxes

The forms probably can't be made any simpler. Will people be able to navigate them?

The draft application for Obamacare subsidies has dropped, and it's 21 pages of complexity.  It's reminiscent of a tax form, and since the whole point is to award subsidies on the basis of your income, that's not exactly surprising.  

In some ways, it's actually more confusing, since the IRS taxes the family as a whole; they don't require you to identify whether "Person 1" will be paying taxes while "Person 3" stays on their employers tax plan or some other plan available through the government.  And the people most likely to need subsidies are also the most likely to have difficulty negotiating complex forms.

The frightening thing is that the people who designed this form clearly worked very hard to make it easy to use.  The complexity is inherent; it's hard to see how it could be simplified further.  October 1st, when the exchanges go live, may end up more than a little reminiscent of April 15th.