Paperwork processing delays at NJ FamilyCare
Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
When a New Jersey mom complained that it took six months to enroll her son in the state's health insurance program for kids, state officials explained that the family got caught in some atypical processing snafus. WHYY learns more about what it takes to sign up for low-income health programs.
The federal health law expands the number of Americans eligible for insurance programs such as New Jersey FamilyCare and Medical Assistance in Pennsylvania.
That means, soon, there will be more first-timers filling out paperwork, and many more applications for state bureaucrats to process.
Katy Weeks is a health care navigator for the Philadelphia Unemployment Project.
She runs a free hotline to help clients find affordable care and apply for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Weeks: It definitely helps to have all the forms ready, to know what they need and turn it in altogether. I think that a lot of clients, they're not necessarily prepared for it when they go, and I think that's something that organizations such as ours are really good at helping with.
She says it can take three or four weeks to process a completed application, but her clients get most frustrated with the leg work, faxes and phone calls it sometimes takes to prepare the paperwork.
The Philadelphia Unemployment Project's health care hotline is 215-557-0822 ext. 106
State officials quickly cut through the red tape for the New Jersey family, but they're also quick to say that a 30-day processing period is more typical for the New Jersey FamilyCare program — as long as applicants have all their paperwork in order.
Donna Torlini is with the state operations office.
Torlini: In most instances the only documentation that is required in verification of income. If they would send in their most recent paycheck we could process the application without any additional information.
In New Jersey an outside vendor handles the applications and Torlini says the company is required to hire staff to keep up with increasing demand.