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Oklahomans have quickly discovered the state’s new Web portal for accessing Medicaid benefits.

Since September 2010, when the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) launched an online enrollment system for SoonerCare — the state’s Medicaid program — 465,000 applications have been received online. Within the first two months of the website’s launch, nearly 40 percent of SoonerCare applicants were applying online instead of through paper forms, according to state officials.

The OHCA is projecting $22 million in savings over the next five years from the new system, where Oklahomans can apply for and track their health benefits.

Users can access the portal from anywhere with an Internet connection (e.g., a home or public library), and eligible applicants who need assistance also can either go to a hospital or one of the OHCA’s sister agencies to apply through the portal.

“Once a person has set up an account, they can renew their benefits online in under two minutes,” said Dustin Oxford, an eligibility specialist for the OHCA.

All that’s required is a person’s income information, Social Security number, address and information from his or her birth certificate. To ensure accuracy of the information provided by the applicant, inputted data is matched to the same data from the Department of Vital Statistics, Oxford said.

The portal was developed by Hewlett-Packard, and funded by part of a $6 million Medicaid transformation grant the OHCA received in 2007, according to Lynn Puckett, the agency’s contract director.

The SoonerCare benefits enrollment website is similar to the Electronic Newborn-1 (eNB1) Web portal the OHCA launched in 2008, which also was developed by HP. The eNB1 portal serves SoonerCare by adding newborns to their mother’s health record so babies can receive benefits faster.

Oxford said in some cases, applicants who’ve enrolled for SoonerCare through the online portal could later add their newborn child to SoonerCare through the eNB1 portal.

“If mom has gone in and applied with online enrollment and she’s pregnant and she gets certified, then she goes down to the hospital and delivers, they can then add that baby through the eNB1 process with no break in eligibility and the kid automatically gets added [to SoonerCare],” Oxford said.

Both portals replaced paper-based systems that included weeks of processing time.

The SoonerCare enrollment Web portal is also part of a larger contract agreement between HP and Oklahoma. HP has worked with Oklahoma since 2002. Earlier this year, the state agreed to a $281 million, seven-year enterprise services contract with the company.

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.