Credit Unions Aid Members as Healthcare Deadline Looms
Long wait times and glitches when the HealthCare.gov website launched last fall didn’t stop some credit unions from helping members navigate through the insurance reforms.
CoOportunity Health recently announced that it eclipsed the 50,000 enrollment mark for individuals and groups in Nebraska and Iowa, said Scott Sullivan, CEO of the Nebraska Credit Union League, which, along with the Iowa Credit Union League, signed on with the Des Moines, Iowa-based entity that provides insurance options through broker Group Benefits Ltd., in Urbandale, Iowa.
“Even with all the national press surrounding the issues related to the Marketplace website we had virtually no complaints from credit unions or their members,” Sullivan said. “Working together, CoOportunity and credit unions took a proactive approach and headed off a lot of the frustrations.”
CoOportunity Health is one of 24 co-ops approved nationwide offering access to health insurance providers under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to the leagues.
Sullivan said once the current enrollment period ends, the leagues will be working with the co-op to better determine the role the credit union partnership played in their enrollment figures.
This week, the White House said the HealthCare.gov website experienced an increase in traffic leading up to the March 31 enrollment deadline. More than five million people have signed on to the site.
For the uninsured that don’t sign up by then, they will have to pay a penalty of $95 or 1% of their income, whichever is greater, through their 2014 tax filing.
The $57 million Advantage Credit Union in Newton, Iowa, was one of 46 credit unions in Iowa and Nebraska that signed on last summer with CoOportunity Health.
“Our whole reason for being involved was to offer a means for everyone to look at insurance options that they didn’t have before,” said Corinne Coyle, president/CEO of Advantage CU. “My concern was there was going to be fraudulent companies out there trying to convince people to come sign on. I want members to be able to come to us and be comfortable.”
Jim Niederhauser, vice president of member services at the Iowa Credit Union League, said the
league is committed to an opportunity for credit unions to assist their members with their health and well-being choices, said Niederhauser. CoOportunity Health has exceeded its expectations in terms of number of policies of sold, he added.
“Credit unions are in the forefront of something new. Members are navigating through unchartered territory. Looking down the road, we’re excited about what’s ahead and how we can improve the model,” Niederhauser said.
Read more about how other credit unions are helping members with the new healthcare changes in the March 26 print issue of CU Times.