Last week I posted a copy of the draft application for Obamacare benefits, which clocks in at a hefty 21 pages.
Consumer advocates and Wonkblog commenters had similar questions: Why on earth would the federal government create such a complex form to obtain a public benefit?
For me, at least, the flowchart below provides a bit of an answer. It comes from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which represents the regulators who oversee each state's insurance market. It is an attempt to draw up the most basic, simple questions to determine eligibility for insurance subsidies or Medicaid.
You don't have to spend much time with the chart to get that, it's really not simple at all. (click here for a larger version).
It can take as many as six questions just to determine an individual's ability to buy insurance. An eight-question chain sorts out eligibility to eschew employer coverage and buy an individual plan with a tax credit instead.
In a way, this is a natural extension of the law's structure. The Affordable Care Act grows two different insurance programs, Medicaid and the individual market. Information on income levels is needed to figure out who qualifies for which one.
The Obama administration isn't collecting 21 pages of information for its own entertainment. It's collecting 21 pages of information to figure out where people land on this flowchart.