Obamacare Marketplace Open for Business
For the estimated 50 million Americans without health insurance, Tuesday marks the day that they can start enrolling in the Health Insurance Marketplace under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Consumers can log on to healthcare.gov, apply online, view a list of insurance plans and find out whether they qualify for a federal tax credit that aims to decrease the cost of the new policies, according to the website.
Credit unions have been gearing up for the Oct. 1 enrollment date by partnering with entities to bring insurance options to their members.
Earlier this year, core data system and technology solutions provider EPL Inc. in Birmingham, Ala., launched the Credit Union Exchange Blueprint, a private exchange for credit unions and members that provides online access to insurance carriers and a resource for the upcoming health care reform requirements.
While the company sent out reminder notices and summary plans last week in anticipation of the Oct. 1 health insurance marketplace enrollment date, EPL has been working for quite some time to get the word out, said Cathy Hulsey, the core processor’s vice president of human resources.
“We were fortunate in that we have been preparing for almost a year now, so we weren’t totally surprised like many,” Hulsey said. “We knew it was going to happen and we’ve kept the employees abreast of the changes that were coming.”
EPL worked with its adviser and did some number crunching to see how its employees would fare buying from the health insurance marketplace compared to having its own insurance plan, Hulsey said.
“We are in that ‘sweet spot’ of 50 to 150 employees so we have to do the analysis of determining what’s best for the employees and company,” Hulsey said. “Open enrollment is going well and we should know next month once we get our carrier information and costs which way to proceed.”
In July, the White House said it would extend the deadline for businesses with more than 50 employers to provide health care coverage from 2014 to 2015. For others, coverage through the health insurance marketplace will start on Jan. 1, 2014.
Meanwhile, several leagues have also formed healthcare partnerships. In June, the Iowa Credit Union and the Nebraska Credit Union League announced an alliance with CoOportunity Health, a health insurance consumer operated and oriented plan. Credit unions in both states will be the exclusive financial institution distribution channel for the co-op, the leagues said. At last count, more than 40 credit unions have already signed on.
The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association linked up with Digital Benefit Advisors, the largest division of the Atlanta-based Digital Insurance, so that state’s credit unions will have access to a broader variety of carriers and resources, the PCUA said.