Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to uphold the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – popularly known as Obamacare – many Americans are wondering how health care reform will affect them once it is fully implemented in January 2014.
Health care reform will affect every American because the 906-page health care law establishes new consumer protections and responsibilities. Many of the details of the reform are still undefined. Credit unions don't know what the changes are going to be, but they do know that there will be significant change at the consumer and member level.
In a banking environment where checking accounts have become commoditized and community charters are diluting the employee benefit message in SEG conversations, this reform is an opportunity for credit unions to position themselves as a resource when the change comes. By serving as a community hub for information and options, credit unions can provide a unique service for members and a true employee benefit for employer groups.
The Known Changes
As of January 1, 2014, Americans who can afford coverage will be required to purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
For an individual, the tax penalty is projected to start at $95 a year or up to 1% of income, whichever is greater. By 2016, the penalty rises to $695 per individual or 2.5% of income. For a family, the tax is capped at $285 in 2014 and rises to $2,085 in 2016.
A Shopping Solution
Private and public health care insurance exchanges are forming in preparation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires employers to provide health care insurance for all employees.
These web-based exchanges will give employees and consumers apples-to-apples comparisons of costs and coverage options for various health insurance plans.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, health care exchanges can help consumers:
• Look for and compare private health plans.
• Get answers to questions about their health coverage options.
• Get a break on costs.
• Enroll in a health plan that meets their needs.
Private exchanges are available now and offer all of the same benefits. If credit unions partner with one of these private exchanges, they can offer a valuable service to their members, get ahead of the federal exchanges, and position themselves as a needed healthcare resource as well as a financial one.
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The Credit Union Exchange Blueprint (CUEB) is the nation’s first private health insurance exchange for credit unions, their members, and their communities. It is designed to address the pending insurance changes from the Obama Health Care Reform Act. The Credit Union Exchange Blueprint is a turnkey solution that will help credit unions nationwide deliver unique and easy-to-use insurance access for members. Providing a web portal with insurance options, a 24-7 expert call center, and complete training, the CUEB is the nation’s first private exchange dedicated to credit unions and their members. The Exchange will help members navigate through health care reform’s complexities and position credit unions as a trusted advisor. The CUEB will become an informational resource for members wrestling to understand options and coverage, and will enable credit unions to leverage the Exchange’s expertise and products to better serve these individuals.