HEALTHY FAMILIES: Modern Healthcare Cites ‘Problem Takeoff’
The Healthy Families application form's "complexity, along with myriad other bureaucratic issues, is among the reasons many observers believe California's insurance program for children from low-income families will not meet expectations," Modern Healthcare reports. E. Richard Brown, a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles Center for Health Policy Research, said, "It's a program that needs to be a lot more user-friendly. ... They need to be able to bring in children in from the ground up." In addition to the 27-page application that "requires a calculator, copies of records from the Internal Revenue Service and Immigration and Naturalization Service, utility bills and pay stubs," critics cite "the premiums charged, lack of assurances available to immigrant families about how the information on the forms will be used and whether glitches in the state's outreach program can be quickly addressed." As of August 3, only 5,000 children had enrolled since the program was launched July 1; the state estimates that 500,000 will eventually enroll.
Get The Word Out
California Health Services Director S. Kimberly Belshe noted that the state is launching a $17 million program "to train members of various community groups to help applicants fill out the forms." Participating community groups are paid $25 for every child signed up. Belshe also noted that much of the information requested on the application is required by the federal government. "You can't expect a program of this scope to get off the ground flawlessly," she said, adding, "One of the consistent findings is that many people believe the program is too good to be true, that they can't believe the government would provide such low-cost options" (Shinkman, 8/10 issue).