Can I Use a Paper Application to Get Obamacare?
Since the launch of Obamacare on October 1, the federal and state health insurance marketplaces (also called “exchanges”) have been plagued by technical troubles. Many, perhaps most, people who have tried to sign up for new health insurance plans online have been unable to complete their applications.
Because of these difficulties, some individuals and application assistants are turning to the old-fashioned way of getting health insurance -- paper applications.
Applying on Paper May Not Be Better or Faster
When facing a slow or broken online health insurance exchange, using a paper application may seem tempting -- at least it would provide the feeling of getting something done. However, paper forms may not speed up the process at all. On the contrary, they could slow down your application even more.
The worker who reviews your paper application must manually enter the information from your forms into the same system you would use online at your state’s exchange. It won’t work any faster for them than it does for you. Plus, using a paper application opens up more opportunity for error by putting more people between you and your goal of getting insurance.
Rather than turn to paper, it’s still best to apply online if you have that option. If your state exchange is burdened by technical difficulties, give it some time to work out the problems. Keep in mind that you can get coverage by January 1, 2014 as long as you apply by December 24, 2013. And for this first year of Obamacare, open enrollment extends through March 31, 2014.
That said, if you feel that you’re unlikely to come back and apply for health insurance later, you may want to go ahead and complete a paper application now. Follow these steps to apply on paper.
How to Get a Paper Application for Obamacare
If you want to use a paper application to apply for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, you have a couple of options:
- If you live in a state that uses the federal health insurance marketplace -- or in a state that operates its own exchange and provides a link to a downloadable paper form -- you can get the forms right now.
- In any state, you can call the health insurance exchange customer service center or contact an in-person assister -- such as a navigator, certified application counselor, or certified agent or broker -- to get a paper application and help filling it out.
To find out whether Illinois offers a downloadable paper application or to get complete information for contacting the exchange and finding an in-person helper, see How Do I Sign Up for Obamacare in Illinois?