How to Reach Uninsured Youths: Cut the Paperwork

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In an effort to draw uninsured children into its health insurance program for the poor, New Jersey has taken an ax to its paperwork: The intimidating 14-page application form has been cut to one page.

The state will send the new “Express Lane” form to families that indicated on their 2008 tax returns that they have uninsured children at home, Gov. Jon Corzine (D) announced last month.

Those moves are part of an effort to follow a state law, enacted last year, requiring that all children in the state be insured. One sponsor of that law, State Sen. Joseph Vitale (D), said he could not correctly fill out the old form. “If you made just one mistake, the application was set aside,” he said at the news conference where Corzine announced the new initiative.

The state program, NJ FamilyCare, provides free or low-cost coverage to children and some low-income parents. It covers children in families whose income is up to 350 percent of the federal poverty level. Some 131,000 children and 128,000 adults are enrolled, according to the state Department of Human Services.

The governor said the state has about 350,000 uninsured children.