The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Want Obamacare? Here’s the 21-page draft application.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday on the 21-page draft application that Americans would use to access the health law's subsidized insurance coverage. What they didn't include though, was the actual document—which we've got right here.

The administration is caught in a bit of a bind here. On the one hand, Obamacare is tricky business. In order to figure out how much Americans will pay, the federal government needs to collect lots of information, everything from the size of the family to its income to whether any family members are Alaska Natives (which would make them eligible for additional services through the Indian Health Service). It's hard to collect all that data in a way that isn't a bit complex.

At the same time, the whole goal of the Affordable Care Act is to maximize health insurance enrollment. That puts a premium on making the applications simple and easy to use—not the kind of documents that you'd get half way through and give up on.

To find a space between the two of these, there are likely a lot of support services that will start springing up over the next few months. This could include traditional agents and brokers, whose whole line of business is understanding applications like this one.  The Affordable Care Act also envisions a group of navigators, financed by state exchanges, who will—as the name implies—help navigate the insurance system.

A lot of Americans don't envision filling out their application alone, and that means that this class of helpers is likely to be crucial to making the health care law work.

One other note to keep in mind: Most Americans will never see this form. Most who access health insurance through the exchange are expected to do so online, not in paper.