2010 CARE Recertification and Post-Enrollment Verification (PEV) Non-Response Study
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2010 CARE Recertification and Post-Enrollment Verification (PEV) Non-Response Study. FEBRUARY 27, 2012. PREPARED FOR:. www.travisresearch.com. 12-022 ( 02-22-12 ). WHAT IS CARE?. CARE (California Alternate Rates for Energy).

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2010 CARE Recertification and Post-Enrollment Verification (PEV) Non-Response Study

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2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

2010 CARE Recertification and Post-Enrollment Verification (PEV) Non-Response Study

FEBRUARY 27, 2012

PREPARED FOR:

www.travisresearch.com

12-022

(02-22-12)


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

WHAT IS CARE?

CARE (California Alternate Rates for Energy)

The CARE program provides a monthly discount on energy bills for income-qualified households and housing facilities. Qualifications are based on the number of persons living in the home and the total annual household income.


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

CARE PROGRAM GUIDELINES

  • PG&E bill in customer’s name

  • Live at the address where the discount will be received

  • Not claimed as a dependent on another person's income tax return (other than spouse)

  • May not share an energy meter with another home

  • Household meets the program income guidelines

  • Customer must notify PG&E if the household no longer qualifies for the CARE discount

  • Customers may qualify for the CARE program if:

    • They participate in any of several public assistance programs (e.g., Medicaid, Medi-Cal, Food Stamps), or

    • Household income meets the program income guidelines (adjusted depending on household size).


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

CUSTOMER CHURN AT KEY TOUCHPOINTS

  • Post-Enrollment Verification (PEV)

    • Approximately 4% of enrolled customers selected for PEV annually

    • Required to provide proof of income or participation in other qualifying program within 90 days

    • Process: Letter  Reminder call at 45 days  Reminder letter at 60 days

    • If no response within 90 days, removed from program

    • In 2009, 34,000+ selected…47% did not respond…6% responded but didn’t qualify

  • Recertification

    • Enrolled customers required to recertify every two years (or four years if on fixed income)

    • Can complete recertification application or recertify via automated phone call

    • Process: Letter  Monthly automated phone calls  Final reminder letter

    • In 2009, 317,000+ requested to recertify…82% successfully recertified…nearly 18% did not

____________________________

Note:Communication in four languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin/Cantonese, Vietnamese.


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

RESEARCH BACKGROUND / OBJECTIVES

  • PG&E continually looking to maximize participation in CARE program.

  • PG&E interested in better understanding the reasons for losing customers at:

    • Post-Enrollment Verification (PEV)

    • Recertification

  • Research Objectives:

    • Uncovering root causes that lead to being dropped from CARE (either through Recertification or PEV)

    • Identifying ways PG&E can overcome barriers to Recertification/PEV fulfillment

    • Determining how to make processes easier.


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

METHODOLOGY

  • 48 telephone interviews, across three languages:

  • Conducted August 19 – October 7, 2010

  • Screening:

  • At least jointly responsible for reviewing/paying household’s energy bills

  • Minimum age of 18

  • Household formerly enrolled in CARE, but not now

  • No household member who ever worked for PG&E

  • (Spanish and Chinese language respondents) screened to ensure comfort speaking as their native language. (Speak it exclusively or at least most of the time.)


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

QUALITATIVE DISCLAIMER

NOTE:Qualitative interviews seek to develop insight and direction rather than to provide quantitatively precise or absolute findings. This is due to the limited size of the sample of respondents and the means by which they are recruited. It must be understood that the results reported here are qualitative in nature and not necessarily projectable to a larger population.


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

Detailed

Findings


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

INITIAL AWARENESS OF CARE PROGRAM

  • PG&E is most frequent source of CARE program awareness:

  • Insert in

  • Monthly Bill

  • PG&E Employees at Payment Center

  • PG&E Telephone Customer Service

“I called (PG&E) because my bill was so high. It was never that high (before) and I didn’t know how to pay it. The lady on the phone told me about the program and said if I qualified it would help me.” (Chinese Non-Recertification)

  • Minor awareness sources:

    • Receiving a phone call from (presumably) PG&E

    • Neighborhood canvassing

    • Brochures at community event

    • Welfare department

    • Friends/family.


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

INITIAL AWARENESS BY ETHNIC GROUP

  • CARE awareness sources differ by ethnicity:

  • English Speaking

  • Chinese Respondents

  • Spanish Speaking

  • Bill inserts

  • In-language media sources (Chinese TV, radio, newspapers)

  • In-person at PG&E (when paying bill)

“I think it came in the bill. It was an insert in the bill explaining the program. It came several times and finally I read it.” (English Non-Recertification)

“I got a bill for $300 and I couldn’t pay it all. I went to the PG&E office. They said I might qualify.” (Spanish Non-Recertification)

“I went online when I heard about it on the radio, Chinese radio.” (Chinese PEV)

  • Friends and family are common sources across cultures.


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

APPLICATION PROCESS

  • CARE customers complete the application through various methods:

  • Majority Use Mail

  • Phone Call With

  • PG&E Rep

  • Over the Phone

  • (Especially Chinese,

  • In-Language)

  • (A Few)

  • Online

  • At PG&E

  • Payment Center

  • (Especially Hispanics)


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

APPLICATION PROCESS EASE OF USE

  • Reaction to application process

    • Clear and simple

“It was about two years ago (Interviewer: How easy was it?) They were in Spanish and they were easy to understand. I had no problem filling them out.” (Spanish PEV)

  • Some (non-English) require family/friend assistance (one since she cannot read)

“I think they sent me something in the mail…really don’t remember. I think I took it to the PG&E office and filled it out in person. They helped me some.” (Spanish Non-Recertification)


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

IMPRESSIONS OF THE CARE PROGRAM

  • Generally quite positive

    • Tough financial times

    • Frees money for other uses

  • Modest perceived disadvantages… hardly any.

    • Regret that they no longer qualify

    • Perception that income ceiling is too low

    • Having too many earners in the home

“In these financial times it’s hard to heat your home if you don’t have the money. It helps.” (English Non-Recertification)

“It’s their selection process. Who gets to sign up for it and who doesn’t? They dropped us because they said we were making too much even though we’re unemployed. They decided our income was too high. I still can’t pay the bill.” (English PEV)

“It’s good for me because I’m really struggling. I have cancer and can’t work much. I made less than $25,000 last year.” (English PEV)

P.21


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

DEFINING THE CARE PROGRAM

  • Few can define CARE in detail

“I know it’s for people with low income. It helps you pay your gas and electric bill. It’s something that’s going to help them.” (Spanish PEV)

  • Some confusion

    • Some confuse with Energy Savings Assistance Program (ESAP)

    • Others associate with Medical Baseline Assistance

    • Amount of discount

“Someone called and said they were going to be in the neighborhood. They wanted to come and check out my house. Check the windows and things like that.” (English Non-Recertification)

“I think they subtract about 50%.” (Spanish Non-Recertification)

  • About half understand the program has tiers

    • Only a few accurately cite the income levels

  • Most – especially PEV – unclear regarding the length of the program

  • Some say participation is indefinite as long as still income qualified

“Up until my income exceeds the standard.” (Spanish Non-Recertification)

  • Non-Recertification respondents generally understand you need to recertify after one or two years.

“It’s for life. I can’t tell you for sure. Maybe it’s for life.” (Chinese Non-Recertification)

  • Several believe there is no limit


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

RECALL OF RECERTIFICATION / INCOME VERIFICATION

  • Nearly all recall receiving recertification/income verification communication via mail.

  • One or two say they never received the recertifica-tion communication.

“I received a letter that I had to provide some income information and then I felt my income did not qualify so I didn’t send it in.” (Chinese PEV)

“They said I would be getting an application every year to re-qualify. They didn’t send it to me this year. For the past 4-5 months my bill came high. I called and they sent me an application. I filled it out and returned it right away but I heard nothing. I sent them three applications.” (Spanish PEV)

  • Some recall receiving phone calls from PG&E.

    • Non-English speakers less likely to mention.

“I got lots of phone calls asking me to re-enroll.” (English Non-Recertification)

“They called to see if I applied. The person who called did not speak much Spanish. She asked me about my household. (Interviewer: What else?) How much money I made.” (Spanish Non-Recertification)

P.27/28


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

CLARITY OF COMMUNICATION

  • Most seem to find the forms straightforward.

  • A few find them challenging.

  • There is frustration expressed regarding the income verification form and the number of documents required.

  • At least one person found the PEV language confusing.

“No, it wasn’t clear. It was in Chinese (and) some (questions) I could understand, some I could not.” (Chinese PEV)

“They said later that I had to provide proof of income. I didn’t understand. I called PG&E and couldn’t get through. The unemployment said you are in this bracket and can enjoy these programs.” (Chinese PEV)

“Put your requests in English. Not governmental lingo. Make it easier.” (English PEV)

P.29


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

REASONS NO LONGER IN PROGRAM

  • A majority say they have higher income now.

  • Unemployed now working

“I was unemployed for about a year but now I have income. (Interviewer: Did you check the tables or just assume?) Once I heard the recorded phone message that listed the brackets, I knew I was over.” (English Non-Recertification)

  • Working full-time

“When I first came to the country I had only part-time work. Now I have full-time.” (Chinese Non-Recertification)

  • Fewer people in household (thus more challenging to qualify with same income)

“I’m not qualified because my kids don’t live here anymore and my income is too high.” (Spanish Non-Recertification)

  • Additional bread winners added to home

“I got married and now he is a part of my household. We don’t qualify any longer.” (English Non-Recertification)

P.31


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

OTHER REASONS NO LONGER IN PROGRAM

  • Fear that reporting could lead to legal problems

  • Apprehension that CARE participation will jeopardize other program benefits

  • Energy bill lower and benefit too modest

“When I filled it out, it made me think I may have legal problems. (Interviewer: Why is that?) I don’t think I qualify because my four kids are gone from the house. If I apply and don’t qualify, PG&E might think I lied.” (Spanish Non-Recertification)

“The program is a good offering...people’s lives change and may not need the help anymore. I like to be self-sufficient. I don’t like to try new things. I’m kind of afraid. What if I don’t qualify? I don’t want to be in trouble with the law. No legal hassles.” (Spanish Non-Recertification)

“We are trying to get the medical benefit because our son is on a respirator at night. We applied for CARE too and got the benefit, but now they are asking for all this information. I haven’t sent in the income documents; I am confused about what to do.” (English PEV)

“My bills are pretty small now. I don’t know but if the bills were higher I would try to qualify. (Interviewer: How high?) Maybe $150.” (Spanish Non-Recertification)

P.32/36/33


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

OTHER REASONS NO LONGER IN PROGRAM (continued)

  • Preference for conservation over financial assistance

Interviewer:Why do you think you are no longer in the program?

Respondent:“Probably because I didn’t give them enough information. They haven’t asked for more. (Interviewer: Would you fill out the form again?) Of course if it meant it would lower our bill.” (English PEV)

“I just try to economize. I use the fan instead of the AC, I wash clothes at night, open the windows in the evening. I don’t want to get in trouble for accepting aid.” (Spanish Non-Recertification)

  • Customer providing insufficient information

  • Concern that information may be mishandled

P.33


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

RATIONALE FOR NOT SUBMITTING PAPERWORK

  • (As noted) Belief they no longer qualify

“I just didn’t fill out the application because I didn’t think I qualified. Why should I bother?” (Spanish Non-Recertification)

“I received a letter that I had to provide some income information and then I felt my income did not qualify so I didn’t send it in.” (Chinese PEV)

  • General excuses such as apathy, misplacement of paperwork, too busy

P.33/34


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

RATIONALE FOR NOT SUBMITTING PAPERWORK (continued)

  • PEV customers provide additional reasoning:

  • The time-consuming process

  • Concern regarding public disclosure

  • Having to supply new information not previously provided

“It takes a lot of time…I don’t want to use a lot of time.” (Chinese PEV)

“There are too many forms to fill out. You fill out the first form then they send you more. It’s too much.” (Chinese PEV)

“The income request is okay…but there is a lot of personal info. If you give it, it may not be used correctly.” (Chinese PEV)

“They did ask about income. (Interviewer: Did you send?) Yes they asked me for my Social Security number and I don’t have one.” (Spanish PEV)

  • Tax returns not readily available

“My taxes aren’t done. I filed an extension. When I have them I’ll apply again.” (English PEV)

  • Self-employment income more difficult to verify

  • With multi-wage earner households, harder to obtain income documents when filing separately

“First of all, the form should be simpler. The requirement of the income tax is hard to get for the other people in the family. They are not always present so it’s hard.” (English PEV)

P.34/35/36


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

PAPERWORK SUBMITTED BUT NO RESPONSE FROM PG&E

  • A significant number have returned the form, but have not received a response from PG&E

“Yes, I filled it out. I never heard anything back. I sent it back and I am still waiting.” (Spanish PEV)

“I sent the form in with all the paperwork. I called PG&E and they said they hadn’t received it. Last month, I got a really high bill. It came to $150. We went to PG&E and they sent us another form.” (Spanish PEV)

“I sent it out but never received a response. I didn’t make a phone call because I don’t speak English.” (Chinese PEV)

“I sent the form by mail and heard nothing. Then I faxed it, finally I took it to the PG&E office, but I still have not heard that I am in the program.” (Spanish PEV)

P.34/17/18


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

ENHANCING THE RECERTIFICATION / PEV PROCESS

  • Improve the Form Process

  • More Personal Attention

  • (especially Non-English PEV)

  • Better Promotions

  • Program Alterations

  • Execute via phone instead

  • More info to apply online

  • More visually distinctive

  • Verbal over written commu-nication

  • Assurance that information is safe-guarded

  • In-person process

  • More personal involvement

  • Advertising (mostly men-tioned by Chinese)

  • Raising the income tiers

  • Less documentation – especially PEV

“Advertise on the TV, Sing Tao radio 1415. (Interviewer: Anything else?) Have a sample application in the newspaper.” (Chinese Non-Recertification)

“Put ‘CARE Status’ or ‘Time to Renew’ on the envelope so it doesn’t look like junk mail.” (English Non-Recertification)

“I don’t think they should ask for so many documents.” (Chinese PEV)

“If someone had called and talked to me about it, it would have helped.” (English PEV)

“People don’t have time. People who are low income don’t know how to read or write. By phone it would be easier. Call and explain the program. Many people think (that because) they are illegal (they) won’t qualify. Mexicans are used to having things explained to them. But they also have dignity and don’t like to ask for help.” (Spanish PEV)

  • Include with the bill

  • Participant testimonials

“Don’t have the notice separate. Put it right on the bill. Other papers get misfiled or thrown away.” (English PEV)

“They could ask customers to be in commercials…” (English Non-Recertification)


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

Key Conclusions and

Recommendations


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

KEY CONCLUSIONS

  • CARE very well received

  • Paperwork with PG&E generally clear and understandable

  • Many reasons for lack of CARE participation. Major causes:

    • Higher/non-qualifying income

    • Fear/apprehension of sharing information – especially among Spanish-speaking

    • General excuses (apathy, discount not enough to justify)

  • PEV paperwork creates additional hurdles (time-consuming, tax return accessibility, etc.)

  • Significant number unsure of status since lack of communication from PG&E

  • Several suggestions for improving the Recertification/PEV process:

    • Improving the form process (e.g., phone/online)

    • More personal attention

    • Better promotion

    • Program alterations (e.g., raising income tier)


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Ensure customers are notified regarding receipt and status of application

  • Expand the list of acceptable “proof of income” documentation

  • Provide expanded explanation for financial documentation request and communi-catemeasures in place to safeguard customer privacy

  • Modify the bill so CARE discount more prominent

  • Promote online and IVR recertification

  • Given higher level of apprehension among lower-income Hispanics, re-double efforts:

    • Bi-lingual service reps in payment centers

    • In-language testimonials (available via phone or online)

    • Pilot program using targeted live calls to address outstanding concerns

    • Promotion of existing helpline telephone number


2010 care recertification and post enrollment verification pev non response study

CARE


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