Heather Ginsberg
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So you thought filing your taxes was a long, and laborious task…wait til you hear about Obamacare. It is currently quicker and easier to apply for a green-card than it is to apply for Obamacare- you know, that program that was supposed to help everyone, save them from the pains of getting health insurance. Well right now the draft of the paper application for Obamacare is 15 to 21 pages long, depending on whether you are applying for yourself or your family. Not only is the actual application long, but the instructions on how to fill out the application are no less than 61 pages. That number is almost 6 times larger than the page number for a green-card application.

Adding to the confusion from this new bureaucracy is that experts say most Americans are still largely in the dark about what the health-insurance exchanges — the new marketplaces for individual insurance stipulated by the health-reform law — even are. Though government officials are hurrying to set them up before open enrollment for 2014 begins this fall, a survey released today by InsuranceQuotes.com found that 90% of U.S. consumers don’t know that the exchanges open Oct. 1, and 22% said they thought the exchanges were already open now.

That lack of knowledge doesn’t bode well for how consumers will actually manage to sign up for insurance on their own, experts say — something they will have to do or else pay a penalty mandated by the health-reform law.

When the Department of Health and Human Services released the draft of the application, many consumers were, not surprisingly, overwhelmed and concerned. The point of the Affordable Care Act was to make getting insurance easier for those who could not get it through their employers or family. Many consumers are complaining about the new barrier that stands in their way of getting insurance- the paperwork.

A little-known government disclosure requirement offers a clue, at least, to how much time it will take consumers to fill out the forms. To comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Health Department had to submit an “Information Collection Request” along with the draft forms, detailing why it is seeking the information and an estimate for how long it will take the public to provide. The online application will take 15 to 30 minutes to complete depending on whether consumers are applying for additional government subsidies, according to the ICR.

Meanwhile, the paper application will take 20 to 45 minutes to finish. (By comparison, the department estimated that applications through the small-business health-plan exchanges, known as SHOP, will only take about 10 to 13 minutes to complete.)

But experts say those time estimates don’t include the many hours of homework consumers will have to do before they will even be equipped to fill out the forms, like gather proof of their income.

Now, not only are these applications long and time consuming, but they are also quite invasive. The application asks for voter registration status. Why is it that they would need to do that in order to give me health insurance? The exchanges open up in October and experts are suggesting they start the registration process right away in order to meet the 2014 requirements. We are going to need 5 months in order to be able to sign up for Obamacare? It seems like the President was way off on his idea that this would be helping Americans by making it easy to sign up for health insurance. But in all reality, if you don’t go through what seems like a several hour ordeal you are going to be paying a penalty for not having insurance. Is that really what was implied when Obamacare was originally passed?

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Heather Ginsberg

Heather Ginsberg is Townhall's web editor and community manager. Follow her on Twitter

@HeatherGinsberg

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography