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Health-e-App Public Access: Modernizing the Path to Children's Health Coverage in California

Mathematica Policy Research

Since December 2010, Californians have had access to a self-service online application for Healthy Families and Medi-Cal for Families. Health-e-App Public Access offers lessons for other online enrollment efforts, including the ACA marketplaces.

Since December 2010, Californians have been able to use a self-service, online application for Healthy Families and for the Medi-Cal Program for Children and Pregnant Women. This enrollment option, called Health-e-App Public Access (HeA PA), offers faster, more convenient access to public insurance for children. A series of reports from Mathematica Policy Research, supported by CHCF and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, examines the impact of this new enrollment route in 2011, its first full year of operation.

The final report in the series (October 2013) summarizes findings from four previous issue briefs focused on overall success of the public access portal in the first year (March 2012), HeA PA applicants and their experiences with the self-service tool (February 2013), results of an outreach campaign to publicize the availability of HeA PA (May 2013), and the interaction between community-based assisters and the online application (July 2013).

Among the key findings from the five reports:

  • Use of HeA PA was associated with a 14% increase in total applications submitted to the state processing center from 2010 to 2011. The growth in total 2011 applications appears entirely attributable to the availability of the tool.
  • Almost all HeA PA applicants used the tool in English. HeA PA applicants were far more likely than people who used paper applications or who had assistance to say they preferred handling all application-related communications in English.
  • Most HeA PA applicants said they use the Internet regularly. Two-thirds submitted applications from their own computer, and nearly all used a high-speed connection.
  • Slightly more than half of applicants said they used an HeA PA help feature. More applicants used an online help feature than used live help over the phone.
  • Certified application assistants who traditionally help families apply for coverage said that they rarely told applicants about HeA PA or encouraged them to try it. Many believed that their clients did not have the Internet savvy or literacy to use HeA PA successfully.
  • The online outreach campaign (July 2011-July 2012) led to 138,000 visits to the HeA PA website, representing about 64% of all visits during those months. This was approximately double the average monthly number of unique visitors to the website in the previous six months.
  • The campaign appears to have been successful in reaching target Latino audiences. In areas where the outreach campaign specifically targeted Spanish-speaking Latinos, average monthly HeA PA applications showed a particular increase.

The reports are available on the Mathematica website through the External Link below.

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