Clunky government websites are a pain, especially when they’re a hurdle to keeping your family insured.
The state Treasurer’s Office is telling state employees, teachers and retirees insuring a spouse or children through the State Health Plan to provide documentation proving that those family members are really eligible.
State Treasurer Dale Folwell has said the audit will weed out people using the insurance plan who shouldn’t be on it – employees’ ex-spouses who stayed on the plan, or children older than 26 and no longer eligible for dependent coverage.
Letters went out last month telling enrolled members the audit is meant to eliminate waste. The members will get more reminders to make sure they meet the July 31 deadline. People who don’t meet the deadline will have their families’ coverage cut off.
“Allowing ineligible dependents to participate in the Plan increases the overall cost of our Plan to members and taxpayers,” the letter says. “Every dollar going to those who are ineligible is a dollar out of your pocket. As an important step towards reducing costs and eliminating waste, the Plan is conducting an audit to verify eligibility of dependents covered by the Plan.”
The way the office is collecting the information has some people fuming. A letter to the editor from a UNC sociology professor this week described spending more than hour uploading required documents.
Richard Rogers, executive director of the NC Retired Governmental Employees Association, said uploading his documents was frustrating. “It took me a long time,” he said.
Rogers understood the reason for providing electronic copies after it was explained at a meeting of the health plan board of trustees Friday.
In an interview, Folwell said the documents will be saved so that the office doesn’t have to go back to enrolled members again and again for information on their children’s ages. Former Treasurer Janet Cowell did an audit in 2011, Folwell said, but all the information was on paper that no one can find.
“We’re going to have living, breathing documents,” he said. “If you have a 12-year-old child, we don’t have to ask for that 12-year-old’s child birth certificate anymore. It’s attached to the record of the subscriber.”
The website is run by a contractor, Folwell said.
So far, 31,000 enrolled members have successfully uploaded documents, Folwell said. The members can also fax or email the information.
Some changes are coming to the site, he said. There’s going to be a thermometer to indicate that all documents uploaded successfully.
Once their information is verified, members will get a congratulatory email.
The office is asking for the first page of tax returns, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and adoption or legal guardianship papers.
Enrolled members can appeal if dependents who qualify lose coverage. The appeals process usually takes two weeks, but can take up to 30 days, according to Folwell’s office. If an eligible family member incurs medical bills while not insured, the family will have to pay out of pocket and seek reimbursement from the health plan.