Using Behavioral Economics to Inform the Integration of Human Services and Health Programs under the Affordable Care Act . 2. Presenting SNAP enrollment opportunities before the end of the initial application for health coverage


A second strategy would raise the SNAP issue before the initial health enrollment process is complete.78 For example, a consumer who appears likely to qualify for human services programs could be given the option to complete either a health-only application or a multi-program application that requests the information needed by both SNAP and health programs. If the latter application concludes with a telephonic contact between the consumer and a representative of the SNAP agency, that might be enough to meet SNAP interview requirements and allow SNAP benefits to begin immediately, without the risk that a lack of follow-through could cause a consumer to “fall through the cracks” and fail to receive benefits. On the other hand, state health agencies would need to be involved in crafting such a multi-program application, which could make this option hard to implement in many states. Also, a multi-program application can be harder to complete because it has more questions than an application limited to health coverage alone.79 The former, for example, typically asks questions about asset values, which many applicants find burdensome to answer, 80 and which are excluded from health-only applications because assets are irrelevant to eligibility for insurance affordability programs. Even though multi-program applications will be filled out only by those who request such applications, many could overestimate their capacity to complete that process, stop partway through, and wind up receiving neither SNAP nor health coverage.81 Following CMS’s directive to make clear that SNAP-specific questions are optional is likely to be helpful but may not entirely solve this problem.

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