Promoting Public Benefits Access Through Web-Based Tools and Outreach: A National Scan of Efforts. Volume I: Background, Efforts in Brief, and Related Initiatives. C. Benefits Access Efforts by Key Characteristics

04/08/2011

With rare exception, no two efforts promote access to the same package of benefit programs using the same technological components targeted toward the same population.[11] Volume II presents individual summaries and unique aspects of each effort identified through the scan. This section summarizes some key characteristics across efforts.

Key benefit programs (Table II.1)

  • No effort promotes access to all of the 13 key federally funded benefit programs that were the focus of this scan, but almost three-quarters (62) of the 86 efforts promote access to three or more programs, and nearly one-quarter (19 efforts) promote access to at least half (i.e., seven or more) of the programs.
  • Most efforts promote access to at least one of three keystone programs: SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid. Specifically, nearly 90 percent (77 efforts) promote access to Medicaid, four out of five (69 efforts) to SNAP, and more than two-thirds (59 efforts) to TANF; 53 of the 86 efforts in the scan (61 percent) promote access to all three.
  • Of the efforts that promote access to only two programs, the majority (74 percent) promote access to Medicaid and CHIP. However, despite the increased focus on child health coverage in recent years, less than half of the efforts (41) promote access to CHIP.
  • Programs with the least coverage include SSI/SSDI, Medicare Extra Help, federal housing programs, and veteran assistance programs.
Table II.1. Benefits Access Efforts by Key Benefits Program
Effort Vol. II Page Key Benefit Programs
TANF SNAP Medicaid CHIP Medicare Extra Help WIC SSI/ SSDI LIHEAP EITC School Meals Housing Assistance VA Programs Child
Care Assistance
2-1-1 Navigator 67 X X X X X X X X
ABC 68 X X X X X
ACCESS FL 15 X X X
ACCESS NYC 43 X X X X X X X X X X
Access AR 6 X X X X X X
Access NE 37 X X X X X X
AK application for services 4 X X X X
All Kids and Family Care Online Application (IL) 20 X X
Application for MS Health Benefits 34 X X
Benefits.Gov 1 X X X X X X X X X X X X
Benefits CalWIN 7 X X
Benefits Checkup 69 X X X X X X
Benefits Plus 70 X X X X X X X X
Bridge to Benefits 71 X X X X X X X X
C4yourself 8 X X X
Chipmedicaid.org (TX) 56 X X
COMPASS GA 17 X X X X X X X
COMPASS (PA) 51 X X X X X X X X
Cover Kids (TN) 55 X X
CT online benefits application 11 X X X
DC IMA Combined Application for Benefits 14 X X X
DE ASSIST 13 X X X X
Disability Benefits 101 72 X X X X X X X
Earn Benefits 73 X X X X X X X X X X X
ePASS (NC) 46 X X
FAMIS (VA) 61 X X
Health-e-App (CA) 9 X X
Healthlink (WY) 66 X X
HealthNet On-line (MO) 35 X X
Healthy Kids (FL) 16 X X
Healthy Kids (OR) 50 X X
Healthy MT Kids 36 X X
HelpEngen 75 X X X X X X X X X
HelpWorks 77 X X X X
Husky Health (CT) 12 X X
IA DHS online application 24 X X X X X
ID DHW Application for Assistance 19 X X X X
IL Web Benefits 21 X X X
IN DFR 22 X X X
InRoads (WV) 64 X X X X X
Insure AL 3 X X
KY multiple benefit application 26 X X X X
LA DSS multiple benefit application 27 X X X
MassResources.org 78 X X X X X X X X X X X X
ME DHHS online application 28 X X
MI Bridges/MARS/ Helping Hand 32 X X X X X
MN combined application form 33 X X X
MS DHS online printable application 34 X X
MT DPHHS Application 37 X X X
myBenefits (NY) 45 X X X X X X X
myBenefits (VT) 60 X X X X
NH EASY 40 X X X X
NH Healthy Kids 39 X X
NJ FamilyCare 41 X X
NJ OneApp 41 X X X
NM HSD online printable application 42 X X X
NV DWSS Application for Assistance 38 X X X
OASYS ND 47 X X X X X
OH Online Benefit Application 48 X X X
OK Request for Benefits and Services 49 X X X
One-e-App 80 X X X X X X X
OR Application for Services 50 X X X X
OregonHelps 83 X X X X X X X X X X X X
OTBET 82 X X X X
ParentHelp123 85 X X X X X
PEAK (CO) 10 X X X X
QualCheck (IN) 23 X X X
Real Choices HI 86 X X X
RI DHS eligibility self screener 52 X X
SAIL (MD) 29 X X X X X X
SC DSS Multiple Program Application 53 X X
SD CHIP/Medical Assistance Application 54 X X
SD Economic Assistance Application 54 X X X
Seamless Compassion 87 X X X X X
Single Stop USA 88 X X X X X X X X
SRS Online (KS) 25 X X X
SSA BEST 2 X X
TN Potential Eligibility Screening and Online Application 55 X X X
The Benefit Bank 90 X X X X X X X X X X X
UT Helps/eREP 58 X X X X X X X
VA DSS Eligibility Screener 62 X X X X X X X
Virtual Gateway 30 X X X X X X X
WA Connection 63 X X X X X X X X X
WI ACCESS 65 X X X X X
Yes NM 43 X X X X X X
Your TX Benefits 57 X X X
Total Efforts with this Benefit Program 59 69 77 41 6 22 12 27 16 14 11 6 31
Percent of Efforts with this Benefit Program 69 80 90 48 7 26 14 31 19 16 13 7 36

Geographic reach (Table II.2)

  • Among the privately hosted efforts, seven are available only in a single state and the rest are available to some degree in multiple states.
  • Aside from the two efforts hosted on federal agency websites (Benefits.gov and SSA BEST), only one effort is currently implemented on a national scale—the National Council on Aging’s (NCOA’s) BenefitsCheckUp screening tool targeted to seniors. In addition to these three nationally-available efforts, all states have some other effort in place to facilitate access to multiple benefit programs using web-based technology (see Volume II, Section A).
  • States in which the largest number of distinct publicly and privately hosted efforts operate include CT, CA, NJ, and NY, followed by FL, IN, MA, MD, NM, and TN.
  • Seventeen states have only a single publicly hosted effort (aside from the two nationwide tools) currently available to low-income residents. In some of these states (such as Utah), however, the one publicly hosted effort is extremely comprehensive, streamlining procedures at each stage of the application and enrollment process for both applicants and public agency staff. In these states, low-income individuals and families may have greater access to program benefits than individuals and families in states with more efforts that are less comprehensive.
II.2 Privately Hosted Benefits Access Efforts by State
Effort Vol. II Page States*
AL AK AR AZ CA CO CT DE DC FL GA HI IA ID IL IN KS KY LA MA MD ME MI MN MO
2-1-1 Navigator 67 S
ABC 68 S
Benefits Checkup 69 S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
Benefits Plus 70
Bridge to Benefits 71 S
Disability Benefits 101 72 S S S
Earn Benefits 73 S S P S P
HelpEngen 75 P P P P S P
HelpWorks 77
MassResources.org 78 S
One-e-App 80 S P S P*
OTBET 82
OregonHelps 83 S P P
ParentHelp123 85
Real Choices Hawaii 86 S
Seamless Compassion 87 S
Single Stop USA 88 P P
The Benefit Bank 90 S S S S S
2-1-1 Navigator 67
ABC 68
Benefits Checkup 69 S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
Benefits Plus 70 S
Bridge to Benefits 71 S
Disability Benefits 10 72 S
Earn Benefits 73 P S P
HelpEngen 75 P
HelpWorks 77 S P
MassResources.org 78 S
One-e-App 80
OTBET 82 S
OregonHelps 83 S S
ParentHelp123 85 S
Real Choices Hawaii 86
Seamless Compassion 87
Single Stop USA 88 P P P
The Benefit Bank 90 S S S S S

*S=Operates statewide; P=Operates in part of the state. One-e-App is in the process of being implemented statewide in Maryland, but is currently available in Howard County only.

Note: In addition to these privately hosted efforts, each state has at least one publicly hosted effort. In AZ, the state (through the Department of Economic Security) adopted One-e-App as its benefits access effort and calls it Health-e-Arizona; there is no other publicly hosted effort in AZ. In HI, the state (through the Department of Human Services) adopted Real Choices Hawaii as its benefits access effort; there is no other publicly hosted effort in HI.

Key technological components (Table II.3)

  • The overwhelming majority of efforts offer users an opportunity to interact online through a screener or application they can submit electronically. A benefits screener/calculator is a key component in more than half (48) of the efforts.
  • Similarly, just over half (48 efforts) allow electronic submission of benefit program applications.[12]
  • More than one-third (29 of the 86 efforts) combine screening capability with electronic submission of online applications, providing a more complete customer service experience.
  • Nine of the 86 efforts combine screening capability with electronic submission of online applications and integration of application and eligibility systems data, ultimately providing the most value to the applicant and public agencies.
  • While most efforts do have at least one interactive technology, several also offer more limited components. Specifically, more than one-third (31) of the efforts provide an application online that can be printed and submitted in paper form, but in one fifth (18) of the efforts the sole technological component is the ability to print an application from a website (without the ability to screen for potential eligibility or submit an application electronically).
Table II.3. Benefits Access Efforts by Key Technological Components
Effort Vol. II Page Web-Based Technology
Screeners/Benefit Calculators Applications That Are Printed and Submitted on Paper Applications That Can Be Sent Electronically Online Application System Data Integrated with Eligibility System
2-1-1 Navigator 67 X
ABC 68 X
ACCESS FL 15 X X X
ACCESS NYC 43 X X X X
Access AR 6 X X
Access NE 37 X X
AK application for services 4 X
All Kids and Family Care Online Application (IL) 20 X
Application for MS Health Benefits 34 X
Benefits.Gov 1 X
Benefits CalWIN 7 X X X
Benefits Checkup 69 X
Benefits Plus 70 X X
Bridge to Benefits 71 X
C4yourself 8 X X
Chipmedicaid.org (TX) 56 X X
COMPASS GA 17 X X X
COMPASS (PA) 51 X X X
Cover Kids 55 X
CT online benefits application 11 X
DC IMA Combined Application for Benefits 14 X
DE ASSIST 13 X X
Disability Benefits 101 72 X
Earn Benefits 73 X X
ePASS (NC) 46 X
FAMIS (VA) 61 X X
Health-e-App (CA) 9 X X X
Healthlink (WY) 66 X X
HealthNet On-line (MO) 35 X
Healthy Kids (FL) 16 X
Healthy Kids (OR) 50 X
Healthy MT Kids 36 X
HelpEngen 75 X X X
HelpWorks 77 X X X
Husky Health (CT) 12 X
IA DHS online application 24 X X
ID DHW Application for Assistance 19 X
IL Web Benefits 21 X
IN DFR 22 X X X
InRoads (WV) 64 X X X
Insure AL 3 X
KY multiple benefit application 26 X
LA DSS multiple benefit application 27 X X
MassResources.org 78 X
ME DHHS online application 28 X
MI Bridges/MARS/Michigan Helping Hand 32 X X
MN combined application form 33 X
MS DHS online printable application 34 X
MT DPHHS Application 37 X
myBenefits (NY) 45 X X X
myBenefits (VT) 60 X
NH EASY 40 X X
NH Healthy Kids 39 X
NJ FamilyCare 41 X
NJ OneApp 41 X X
NM HSD online printable application 42 X
NV DWSS Application for Assistance 38 X
OASYS ND 47 X
OH Online Benefit Application 48 X
OK Request for Benefits and Services 49 X
One-e-App 80 X X
OR Application for Services 50 X
OregonHelps! 83 X
OTBET 82 X
ParentHelp123 85 X
PEAK (CO) 10 X
QualCheck (IN) 23 X
Real Choices HI 86 X X
RI DHS eligibility self screener 52 X
SAIL (MD) 29 X X
SC DSS Multiple Program Application 53 X
SD CHIP/Medical Assistance Application 54 X
SD Economic Assistance Application 54 X X
Seamless Compassion 87 X X X
Single Stop USA 88 X
SRS Online (KS) 25 X X X
SSA BEST (Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool) 2 X
TN Potential Eligibility Screening and Online Application 55 X X
The Benefit Bank 90 X X X
UT Helps/eREP 58 X X X
VA DSS Eligibility Screener 62 X
Virtual Gateway 30 X X
WA Connection 63 X X
WI ACCESS 65 X X
Yes NM 43 X
Your TX Benefits 57 X X
Total Efforts with this Technology 48 31 48 12
Percent of Efforts with this Technology 56 36 56 14

Target population and provision of application assistance (Table II.4)

Unless otherwise indicated by their own marketing materials, we assumed that all efforts were targeted broadly to low-income individuals and families. From publicly available sources, it was not always possible to identify efforts to reach subsets of the eligible population (as this targeting to subsets is often determined by the setting in which an effort operates). For example, the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Food Banks, which operates The Benefit Bank in Ohio, has trained probation and parole officers as counselors for their effort, but that level of detail is not available on the effort’s website or in other readily accessible public documents. There were two types of exceptions, however, to the broadly-targeted efforts that were the norm among efforts we identified:

  • First, 15 of the identified efforts promote access solely to CHIP and Medicaid for children, and we characterized these as being targeted to families with children.[13]
  • Second, three efforts—BenefitsCheckup, Disability Benefits 101, and RealChoices Hawaii—targeted seniors and/or individuals with disabilities.
  • Promoting access to public benefits in a concerted way requires more than simply making program applications available online. To address many of the barriers to access—such as stigma, confusion over eligibility requirements and application processes, and perceived and actual burden—efforts may need to support low-income individuals and families through the application and enrollment process, providing counseling and education along the way.
  • In 18 of the identified efforts, the use of community organizations to provide this type of support to program applicants is an explicit component of the effort. We were unable to locate comparable information across these efforts about the extent to which staff at community organizations receive training on the application process or available web-based technologies. Community organizations may play a formal or informal role in other efforts as well, but their involvement was not readily identifiable elsewhere.
  • In five of the efforts, staff at community organizations use the web-based technology on behalf of clients; the public may not use the technology directly. In each of these efforts, it is clear that staff at community organizations receive specialized training on the technology and the overall effort.
Table II.4. Benefits Access Efforts by Target Population and Provision of Application Assistance

Effort

Vol. II Page

Target Population

Provision of Application Assistance

All Low-Income

Families with Children

Individuals with Disabilities

Seniors

Assistance Available

Assistance Required

2-1-1 Navigator

67

X

ABC

68

X

ACCESS FL

15

X

X

ACCESS NYC

43

X

X

Access AR

6

X

Access NE

37

X

AK application for services

4

X

All Kids and Family Care Online Application (IL)

20

X

Application for MS Health Benefits

34

X

Benefits.Gov

1

X

Benefits CalWIN

7

X

Benefits Checkup

69

X

Benefits Plus

70

X

X

Bridge to Benefits

71

X

X

C4yourself

8

X

Chipmedicaid.org (TX)

56

X

X

COMPASS GA

17

X

COMPASS (PA)

51

X

X

Cover Kids

55

X

CT online benefits application

11

X

DC IMA Combined Application for Benefits

14

X

DE ASSIST

13

X

Disability Benefits 101

72

X

Earn Benefits

73

X

X

ePASS (NC)

46

X

FAMIS (VA)

61

X

Health-e-App (CA)

9

X

X

Healthlink (WY)

66

X

HealthNet On-line (MO)

35

X

Healthy Kids (FL)

16

X

Healthy Kids (OR)

50

X

Healthy MT Kids

36

X

HelpEngen

75

X

X

HelpWorks

77

X

X

Husky Health (CT)

12

X

IA DHS online application

24

X

ID DHW Application for Assistance

19

X

IL Web Benefits

21

X

IN DFR

22

X

InRoads (WV)

64

X

X

Insure AL

3

X

KY multiple benefit application

26

X

LA DSS multiple benefit application

27

X

MassResources.org

78

X

ME DHHS online application

28

X

MI Bridges/MARS/Michigan Helping Hand

32

X

X

MN combined application form

33

X

MS DHS online printable application

34

X

MT DPHHS Application

37

X

myBenefits (NY)

45

X

myBenefits (VT)

60

X

NH EASY

40

X

X

NH Healthy Kids

39

X

NJ FamilyCare

41

X

NJ OneApp

41

X

NM HSD online printable application

42

X

NV DWSS Application for Assistance

38

X

OASYS ND

47

X

OH Online Benefit Application

48

X

OK Request for Benefits and Services

49

X

One-e-App

80

X

X

OR Application for Services

50

X

OregonHelps!

83

X

OTBET

82

X

ParentHelp123

85

X

X

PEAK (CO)

10

X

QualCheck (IN)

23

X

Real Choices HI

86

X

X

RI DHS eligibility self screener

52

X

SAIL (MD)

29

X

SC DSS Multiple Program Application

53

X

SD CHIP/Medical Assistance Application

54

X

SD Economic Assistance Application

54

X

Seamless Compassion

87

X

Single Stop USA

88

X

X

SRS Online (KS)

25

X

SSA BEST (Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool)

2

X

TN Potential Eligibility Screening and Online Application

55

X

The Benefit Bank

90

X

X

UT Helps/eREP

58

X

VA DSS Eligibility Screener

62

X

Virtual Gateway

30

X

X

WA Connection

63

X

WI ACCESS

65

X

Yes NM

43

X

Your TX Benefits

57

X

Total Efforts Targeting this Population

68

15

2

2

13

5

Percent of Efforts Targeting this Population

79

17

2

2

15

6


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