Study: IT tools could help payers boost enrollment

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By using health information technology, including online forms, health insurers could potentially boost, or at least maintain, their health plan enrollment numbers, suggests a study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research.

The study, which was released Wednesday, analyzed California's Medicaid program for children, known as Healthy Families, and found that an online application tool may have helped boost enrollment in the insurance plan, reported the Sacramento Business Journal.

More than 50,000 applicants for the Healthy Families program used its online application tool Health-e-App in its first year, which means 42 percent of applicants used the online tool. As a result of the app, the Healthy Families program received a 14 percent increase in total applications between 2010 and 2011. Moreover, the study concluded that the increase in 2011 applications was attributable entirely to the online application.

In a key conclusion potentially affecting other insurers, the study also found some people using the online application might not have otherwise applied for the program. Therefore, health IT actually may have increased enrollment in the Medicaid plan, noted the Sacramento Business Journal.

"This tells us our focus on the use of technology to facilitate enrollment was the right direction and that this is how people want to be served," said Cliff Allenby, chairman of the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which oversees the Healthy Families Program.

To learn more:
- read the Mathematica study (.pdf)
- see the Sacramento Business Journal article

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