Using technology to create a space for better benefit program delivery
In a time where ‘instant’ is the norm, there is tremendous opportunity to improve the speed and efficiency of benefits programs. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Equifax found that 50% of benefit administrators say streamlining internal processes and efficiencies is a top priority for their departments. Similarly, 63% of local government agencies would prioritize improvements to the integrity of their programs.
Enter technology. A systems first approach can help county administrators accomplish both. Consider that paper-based verification of benefit applications can hamper both speed to decision and customer service. A paper process puts the burden of proof on the applicant, who is required to provide as many as 10 or more pieces of documentation for benefits in some states. This can be tedious to collect and submit. Paper information, by nature is a less secure method which is not nearly as easy to compare over time or across jurisdictions. With technology, decisions can be made faster and those that require more validation can be prioritized.
By leveraging the power of automated data insights, agencies can reduce the risk of improper payments and human error, while expediting approval of benefits. What’s more, time-consuming paperwork can be replaced with automation, relieving administrators of countless hours of working through potentially incomplete or illegible documents. Automated systems and use of data from multiple, credible sources can help administrators streamline the eligibility verification process and more quickly provide insights on:
- Identity – Multiple data sources can be cross-referenced to help verify an applicant’s identity.
- Address – Inconsistent addresses or errors within provided addresses can be detected and verified for legitimacy and can help identify the latest address for applicants.
- Employment and Income – Data on past employment and income can help create an efficient road map to a candidate’s eligibility determination.
- Potential Duplicate Applications – Comparative data can be used to help flag when an applicant appears to have also requested benefits in another county or across state lines.
- Property Ownership and Assets – Data on property ownership and disclosed financial information can further validate an applicant’s eligibility for certain benefit programs.
Combining employment verification with other trusted data sources to confirm an applicant’s identity, residency and assets, agencies can almost entirely automate the eligibility verification process. In Florida, for example, the Department of Children and Families Office of Public Benefits Integrity realized more than $1 billion in cost avoidance after automating processes and creating a more nimble, responsive team. With connected technologies, city and county programs can reap similar benefits creating simpler pathways for citizens to receive benefits while lessening the burden on caseworkers.
Putting benefits processes in sync with the technology experiences and expectations of today’s digitally savvy citizens is a win-win for applicants and benefit administrators as it helps expedite the eligibility verification process to more efficiently and quickly deliver the right benefits to individuals and families in need within the right state or local jurisdiction.
Juan Cole is Vice President, Strategy and Solutions Consulting for Equifax Government Services. In this role, he works closely with government and industry partners to deploy data-driven solutions and trended data analysis that address the ever changing challenges faced by government clients. He leads a service architect team that supports clients in CMS SSA, and state healthcare government agencies to implement solutions that help mitigate risk, prevent improper payments, facilitate verifications, and improve program integrity.