Online application goes statewide

Healthy Families

After a successful pilot program in San Diego County, California has opted for a full-scale ramp up of the Health-e-App program, which takes the application process for state-provided health insurance online.

During the pilot program, health outreach workers — some equipped with notebook computers and high-speed wireless modems — signed up low-income working families at clinics, schools, applicants' homes, and at Women, Infants and Children (WIC) sites.

The online program will speed the application process tremendously, said Richard Popper, assistant director for the state's Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which administers the Healthy Families insurance program. The expectation is that more people will sign on to the program because they will no longer have to spend the time completing paper forms.

"It reduces the average time to fill out the form from an hour to less than 30 minutes, plus it gives immediate notification that the application has been received, which means no more "lost in the mail' notices," he said. "It also removes the three- or four-day delay while the paper form goes through the mail."

While the system is intended for use now by the state's 21,000 certified health application assistants, the intention is to enable families to apply for the Healthy Families program through the Health-e-App Web site (www.healtheapp.org) at libraries, kiosks and even grocery stores, said Claudia Page, program officer at the California HealthCare Foundation, which developed Health-e-App in partnership with the state.

The application for Healthy Families is seen as the first phase of the Health-e-App project. The goal during the next few years is also to link WIC, food stamp and child care programs, all of which use at least some of the same basic information as Healthy Families, through Health-e-App.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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