Using Behavioral Economics to Inform the Integration of Human Services and Health Programs under the Affordable Care Act . Context #2: Helping applicants for health coverage connect to human services programs

07/21/2014

This second context focuses on how potentially eligible consumers could be connected to the SNAP program while they are applying for health insurance at the Marketplace. Here, we draw on behavioral economics findings related to cognitive psychology and consumer choice. The discussion emphasizes online applications for health coverage, but much of the analysis also applies to other application modes—that is, by phone, mail, or in person.58

In the following discussion of behavioral economics research, we suggest that the process of applying for coverage and selecting a plan in the Marketplace could drain many consumers of cognitive reserves, leaving little mental energy for considering a SNAP application. We then explore how the interface between the Marketplace and SNAP could be structured to help consumers make good decisions about SNAP, given the significant risk of cognitive overload during the application process for health coverage.

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