Administrative information technology can help New York City healthcare organizations dramatically reduce the city's uninsured population, according to a study by the United Hospital Fund.
Although more than 2 million residents of the Big Apple enrolled in some form of public health insurance program, 1.8 million of the city's residents are uninsured, according to the study report "Bringing Information Technology Innovation to New York's Public Health Programs."
Of the uninsured, 44% are eligible for public coverage, but aren't enrolled, the report said. Many of those who do enroll and remain eligible -- as many as half each year -- are bounced out of various programs due to a failure to properly re-enroll. The churn in the public healthcare programs is a significant contributor to their direct administrative costs, which totaled $1.1 billion statewide in 2001 and more than $500 million in the city alone, according to the report, which quoted CMS figures.
The United Hospital Fund, a not-for-profit research organization, commissioned the Lewin Group to study the application process for New York's public health insurance programs. The study found that each application requires an average of 1.5 to 2 hours of staff time at private organizations before it reaches a government agency for a determination of eligibility, which typically takes 32 to 40 days.
"IT innovation that allowed applications to travel electronically, immediately upon completion, to the government agency responsible for determining eligibility . . . would instantly eliminate the seven to nine days it now takes between completion and transmittal of new applications," the UHF said.
"Information technology . . . innovation is crucial to covering more eligible New Yorkers by making our existing public health insurance programs more efficient and effective," according to the 16-page report.
View the report.