Can I Use a Paper Application to Get Obamacare?
When Obamacare launched, the federal and state health insurance marketplaces (also called “exchanges”) were plagued by technical troubles. Many people who tried to sign up for new health insurance plans online in the early days were unable to complete their applications.
Because of these difficulties, some individuals and application assistants turned 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.
It’s still best to apply online if you can. 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 New York 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 New York?
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