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EDITORIAL: The Obamacare application

The ultimate form to annoy and frustrate the taxpayer

- The Washington Times - Monday, March 18, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service must now defer to the Department of Health and Human Services as the chief goblin of the American taxpayer. The task of signing up for mandatory health insurance will soon rival the notorious Form 1040 for complexity and anxiety.

The enrollment season begins Oct. 1, and the health bureaucrats have quietly posted a 21-page draft of the application for Obamacare. It's accompanied by a 61-page explanatory document. The form offers 23 racial identities to choose from -- including "other" -- and individuals are encouraged to "check all that apply." Detailed information about a person's sources of income and expenses must be provided, so the government will know how much comes from alimony, how much from rentals, even how much revenue comes from fishing.

The application asks and answers the most obvious question: "Why do we ask for so much information? We ask about income and other information to make sure you and your family get the most benefits possible."

Three years ago, Obamacare's cheerleaders promised that getting health insurance was going to be as easy as shopping online at Amazon.com. If Amazon.com tries anything like this, it will soon be bankrupt. According to the Associated Press, at least three major federal agencies, including the IRS, will scrutinize the applications: "If you apply online, you're supposed to get near-instantaneous verification of your identity, income and citizenship or immigration status. An online government clearinghouse called the Data Services Hub will ping Social Security for birth records, IRS for income data and Homeland Security for immigration status." Rube Goldberg, meet George Orwell. The document will enable the government to keep detailed files on ordinary Americans in a centralized database.

This is just the first step in the process. Once bureaucrats determine whether you qualify for a federal subsidy on the basis of means-testing, picking an actual health plan requires additional forms.

In a prime example of the law of unintended consequences, the sheer complexity of the application process raises the specter that those very same uninsured Americans that Obamacare backers claim to want to help are likely to become overwhelmed and simply give up. But fear not: Ron Pollack, executive director of the advocacy group Families USA and one of the foremost Obamacare apologists, helpfully suggests that an army of counselors be recruited to help the uninsured navigate the paperwork. Thousands of additional HHS and IRS paper-shufflers can be added to the federal payrolls.

These government comedians estimate that on average, the online application will take just a half-hour to complete, while the paper application is expected to take an average of 45 minutes. Good luck with that. Obamacare has proved to be such a terrible deal that Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, has the right idea with his bill to postpone the onset of Obamacare until the economy improves -- and then to hope it never improves.

The Washington Times

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