The Infinite Bewilderment Of Signing Up For Obamacare Subsidies

Garance Franke-Ruta | The Atlantic | November 5, 2013

You thought there was nothing worse than doing your taxes. You were wrong.

Having spent quite some time last week deep in the weeds of Obamacare, whacking my way through the burrs and brush of its extensive questionnaires with a story subject, I am here to tell you two things. First, it is confusing. Second, every little bit of misinformation and confusion matters.

The main reason the uninsured give for not buying insurance after visiting the new Obamacare websites is that they're not certain if they can afford a plan, according to a report Monday by the Commonwealth Fund's Affordable Care Act Tracking Survey. You might hope to answer this question easily with a few pieces of information and a calculator. But you can't.

Take, for example, the site, the largest private exchange for purchasing health insurance in America. It's has put together a user-friendly calculator allowing people who are having trouble with or the state health-insurance-exchange sites to get a sense of whether or not they are eligible for subsidies under Obamacare. Reporters have started using the information from the calculator to debunk Obamacare horror stories. Regular people have started using it to think about what they're eligible for. The online insurance company offered just last week to take over the "shopping and enrollment process in all 36 federal exchange states—without cost to the taxpayer" while is getting fixed. The company is a licensed partner of the Department of Health and Human Services, and it's becoming a place where people can actually buy federal-subsidy-eligible insurance plans.