Online health-insurance marketplaces are a cornerstone of the 2010 federal health law also known as Obamacare.

The marketplaces were long billed as Expedia.com or Travelocity for health insurance.

As open enrollment nears, though, those encouraging the uninsured to sign up are beginning to frame the application as much more involved than quick one-stop shopping.

 

"Really, what this is going to be like is like doing your taxes," said Martine Apodaca, director of public education for a new non-profit called Enroll America. "It will be complicated, it will take a lot of time, and there will be a lot of documentation that's necessary."

The Associated Press reports a draft of the application runs 15 pages for a three-person family.

Healthcare navigators

There will be help, though, for the millions of uninsured expected to apply for coverage when open enrollment begins Oct. 1.

That help will come in the form of healthcare navigators.

Navigators will walk people through application forms, help them pick an insurance plan and determine if they qualify for a subsidy through the federal health law.

Georgetown University Center for Children and Families research professor Tricia Brooks said the navigators will be able to assist people of all incomes.

"The idea is that we're trying to welcome people into coverage, " Brooks said. "You don't want to sit down and screen people out and only help certain people."

Community based organizations, unions or business groups will be able to apply for a federal grant to train and certify workers as navigators.

Training is expected to start this summer to have navigators ready to answer questions in the fall.

Brooks said assistance will be available in person or over the phone.

Millions of people are expected to apply for insurance coverage in the exchanges, many of them for the first time, before the coverage year begins on Jan. 1, 2014.