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CMS prepares to take exchange applications

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Federal regulators are predicting that filling out an exchange eligibility form will take an individual or small business an average of 15 or fewer minutes.

Officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) give exchange eligibility application process speed estimates in a paperwork review notice.

CMS expects individuals to need an average of about 15 minutes to fill out a health insurance exchange eligibility application, officials said in the notice.

A typical small business might need an average of about 13 minutes to submit a paper application for the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchanges, and an employee at a small business that uses a SHOP exchange might need an average of about 9.5 minutes to submit an employee SHOP application, officials said.

Exchange users could end up completing about 7.8 million individual exchange applications from 2014 through 2016, 533,333 SHOP employer applications, and 8 million SHOP employee applications, officials estimated.

“Interested persons are invited to send comments regarding this burden estimate, or any other aspect of this collection of information,” officials said.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2014 (PPACA) calls for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — the parent of CMS — to work with state regulators to set up exchanges, or Web-based health insurance supermarkets, to help individuals and small businesses shop for health coverage.

The exchanges are supposed to be up and running Oct. 1, with the first exchange-sold coverage starting to take effect in 2014.

In July, CMS posted draft versions of the forms and websites it hopes to use to run the exchange system. The agency received about 65 comments on the individual application process, and about 20 each on the SHOP employer and SHOP employee applications.

CMS officials noted that the individual application process the agency described in July was more a list of data elements than an actual form. The agency now has created draft individual exchange applications, officials said.

The agency also has added privacy statements to the SHOP employer and SHOP employee applications, and it made electronic notices the default option for the SHOP exchange system, officials said.

CMS is putting the revised “information collections” through a paperwork review process run by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB). 

Comments on the exchange information collection proposals are due Feb. 28.

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