Eligibility, Enrollment Improvements Could Add Costs, Report Finds
The projected cost savings associated with streamlining and simplifying the eligibility and enrollment process for California's health and welfare programs could be overstated because they do not take into account the likely enrollment increases that would result from making the application process easier, according to a new report from the Legislative Analyst's Office, HealthyCal reports (Weintraub, HealthyCal, 5/3). Â
The Schwarzenegger administration estimates that the state could save $500 million of the $1.5 billion it spends on processing applications for California's health and welfare programs by simplifying the programs and moving the eligibility and enrollment process online (Legislative Analyst's Office report, 5/3).
However, the report notes that if streamliningÂ that processÂ leads to more than a 2% increase in enrollment, the cost for the added health and welfare benefits would exceed the administrative savings. Â
LAO warns that given California's financial situation, the enrollment increases "may not be in the state's best interest at this time."
LAO recommends that the Legislature require state health and social services departments to conduct cost-benefit analyses to determine what the likely costs and caseload increases would be for process changes, such as allowing applicants to apply online (HealthyCal, 5/3). Â Â
The report also recommended that the Legislature:
- Direct state health and social service departments to work directly with counties to make enrollment more efficient;
- Assess requirements of federal health care reform on California's eligibility and enrollment process for health programs;
- Provide financial incentives four county participation; and
- Build in flexibility to allow for future changes and improvements (LAO report, 5/3).