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California analyst assesses PPACA projections

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Getting uninsured people to use the new health insurance exchange system may take several years to ramp up, but, in some cases, exchange processes could make public health program managers’ lives easier.

Mac Taylor, a legislative analyst in the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, touched on those thoughts recently in a look at how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) might interact with state budget forecasts and assumptions.

For California, at least, the introduction of PPACA will mean more use of electronic data in Medicaid program eligibility verification and simplification of the methods used to determine financial eligibility, Taylor wrote in a letter to a state Sen. Bill Monning, chair of the state Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Because of the increased use of electronic data, “the amount of paperwork that an applicant will need to submit will likely be reduced, thereby potentially encouraging more people to apply for the program,” Taylor said.

In spite of that positive effect on enrollment, getting people to use the system will probably take several years and will not be a process that will be more or less complete in September 2014, Taylor said.

Another consideration is that the streamlined eligibility and enrollment process should reduce the average cost of enrolling an applicant, Taylor said.

So far, no state cost projections include the effects of improvements in program enrollment efficiency, Taylor said.

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