The advent of the online application has changed health insurance enrollment on the individual market significantly in California. The major carriers have all brought out their versions of the online application starting with Anthem Blue Cross and most recently by Pacificare of California.
Over a decade ago, health insurance applications were processed much the same way they had been handled thirty years ago. A hard copy of the application would be completed and forwarded to the health insurance agent. This application would then be mailed to underwriting. Already, we would be five to seven days into the process before review could even begin. Issues with mail and missing paperwork can severely delay processing.
A big improvement would happen when the carriers (again, led by Anthem Blue Cross) allowed us to fax the completed application into underwriting and mail the original.
The carrier could start on the faxed copy. What are the advantages of the online application and how does it work?
The first significant
advantage to completing an
online application for
insurance enrollment is both
speed of correctly
completing the application
and its subsequent
processing. The health
insurance application is
never easy to complete. In
fact, it's one of the main
reason people procrastinate
about enrolling for health
insurance. The online
application helps in this
area because it guides you
through the process. It
knows if additional
information is needed (or
not) and prompts you to
complete needed sections.
This insures that the
information on the
application is complete and
Once the completed application is submitted, the processing typically occurs in 50% of the time that a paper application needs. In fact, the new trend is towards auto-adjudication...a fancy word that says the computer can automatically approve or decline some applications based on the information listed in it. In this case, we sometimes have a decision back automatically or in a few days.
This was unheard of before the advent of online applications.
The online application actually follows pretty closely to the paper app in terms of sections and needed information. There are a few distinct differences. As part of the online universe, an ID# and password is needed to start and continue the application.
This ID and password can time-out if not active for a period of time. You can also save your completed work and finish at a later date. This is an improvement to the first online apps where you had to start over.
The online application require an e-signature and this has been an issue in the past. It's pretty functional now and does not pose a problem. The carriers have also made progress in terms of ease of use when completing the online app. As your health insurance broker, we can help if you run into any snags online.
Call us at 800-320-6269 with any questions. Our services are free to you as licensed health agents.
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