California Health Care Enrollment Update

By Arie Stock

Great news from California! Last week, the state enacted the “Health Care Reform Eligibility, Enrollment, and Retention Planning Act.” This means that Californians can expect a simple, streamlined, and seamless process for enrolling in health coverage in 2014. The law includes the following best practices for making health care enrollment easy:

  • Requiring all state agencies that administer health coverage programs to use the same application
  • Allowing people to apply for coverage online, by phone, by fax, by mail, or in person
  • Limiting application questions to only the information that is necessary to determine eligibility for health coverage
  • Pre-populating application and renewal forms with data from third-party databases
  • Using plain language and making the application accessible to people with limited literacy
  • Providing assistance for applicants online, by phone, or in person and in ways that are accessible to people with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency
  • Allowing all state health coverage programs to accept self-attestation of the information that is needed to determine eligibility (rather than requiring paper documentation)
  • Establishing a process for constant improvement in enrollment and retention policies that is based on input from consumers, application assisters, and other stakeholders

The law also lays out clear planning steps for the next year that will ensure that California continues to make progress in designing the policies for its new enrollment system. Many other components of the law facilitate easier renewal and ensure that consumers don’t “fall through the cracks” or experience gaps in coverage. The next step that the law requires is that the California Health and Human Services Agency must recommend policy changes to the legislature by July 1, 2012. We look forward to learning more about what they recommend.

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