Affordable Care Act: Five Things Credit Unions Need to Know and Do Now

As the Affordable Health Care Act opens new options for millions of Americans and puts new standards and requirements in place for insurers and employers, expect to see a flurry of activity in the coming weeks. Consumers will try to determine whether private insurance or state exchanges are their best bet, while employers are determining whether their plans are compliant.

For credit unions as both employers and financial services providers, there are five important things to know and do now, according to Donna Losch, senior vice president and benefits consultant for Brown and Brown of Washington. Brown and Brown—through The Trust—offers competitive benefits packages featuring options from numerous insurers to Northwest financial institutions.

Losch says credit unions should:  

  1. Make sure they meet or beat the Oct. 1 deadline to give employees notice of the availability of the state health exchanges. These online marketplaces allow consumers to compare plans. Generally, employer benefits packages will continue to be the best option for employees, while uninsured, seasonal, part time and self-employed consumers might find better coverage through their state exchanges. Those employees’ incomes might qualify them for subsidies. In Washington, the exchange is at wahealthplanfinder.org; in Oregon, information can be found at coveroregon.com.
  2. Make sure any new employees who begin work after Oct. 1 are also given notice of exchange availability, whether in Oregon or Washington.
  3. Understand which markets are and are not going to be available for employees after Jan. 1, 2014. For example, The Trust will continue to be available to credit unions because of its compliance as well as its single-industry (financial institutions) focus. However, some other association programs, such as chamber of commerce plans, represent multiple industries and will no longer be allowed to do so. This change in the law could affect a number of small employers who offered employee benefits through such plans.
  4. Be prepared to answer employees’ questions on exchanges and subsidies. The online sites appear to be user-friendly, but the issue is still complex.
  5. Be ready for questions from credit union members who may operate small businesses. This is a big budget item for them, so it might affect their growth planning, loan needs, and other financial matters

Losch will help credit unions to better understand pending and long-term issues surrounding health care reform during two sessions at the upcoming Amplify Convention in Portland. On Wednesday, Oct. 9, Losch will present “Health Care Reform—What is the Real Story Now?” That session guides credit unions through changes on the health care horizon that can impact the costs and plan designs offered to employees in the short and longer term. On Thursday, Oct. 10, she will take a deeper dive into the actions suggested in this article during “What Employers Need to Know and Do Now.” Attendees don’t have to be current clients of The Trust to attend the sessions.

 

Questions? Contact Lynn Heider: 503.350.2225, lheider@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News, Article Post.