In Washington, healthcare reform is on the hot seat. While HSA's aren't a 'one size fits all' plan, they are reasonably priced. In today's environment, people are looking at every opportunity to cut expenses.
HSAs were signed into law in December 2003. These accounts offer consumers a way to pay for current medical expenses while also saving for future medical expenses. To be eligible for an HSA, a member must be enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). An HDHP typically costs less to administer than a traditional health care plan, therefore allowing more money to go into the Health Savings Account.
Credit unions have raised their HSA share balances steadily since 2006 with the last year seeing growth of 135% (June 2008 to June 2009). Today, credit unions hold $219M in total balances. While continuing to help members with their financing needs, there is an opportunity to serve members with their healthcare needs. Here are three ways to build your program.
1. Connect with your Select Employee Groups. There is no better time to reconnect with your SEGs; it is open (Healthcare) season! Find out which organizations are offering High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP's) this year by checking in with your human resource representative. Build your message around how you can help the employer and its employees—your current and potential members! With the tax savings and lower cost of HDHP's, it is easy to see the savings possible for the employer. An HDHP might not be right for every employee, but it would be well worth it for those who might benefit from the program.
2. Sponsor a health fair. Healthcare can be confusing. So how can you help your members? It might not be the best idea to hold a 'town hall' (we've all seen on the news what direction those can go!), but some are having success with purely informational neighborhood health fairs. (I found a great site with information on hosting health fairs). Invite family clinics, hospitals, fitness centers, and children's recreational centers. Invite your community to take advantage of the resources available to them and potential incentives offered by vendors at the Health Fair. You could hold a blood drive, have cholesterol screenings, flu shots, or reduce the stress in life with massages. You could do this all while promoting your Health Savings Account Product—better yet, offer a special or discount for attendees. Now is the time to educate the member as they have serious deliberations on their healthcare insurance options coming up in November.
3. Offer healthcare educational resources. Sure, you might not have your doctorate in medicine, but why not have a column from a locally known doctor? Feature medical issues that are most affecting your community in your monthly newsletter. Include educational resources with HSA statements or in other cross-selling opportunities. As a trusted advisor, you certainly have enough expertise to help members manage their healthcare expenses in the least. Help members with which bills to pay first, what to do in a layoff situation to ensure insurance, and how to make sure an entire family is medically covered. An example in the finance community, US Bank recently partnered with WebMD (an online health information source) to offer expertise to HSA holders at the bank. US Bank account holders now have access to medical information and comparison costs for hospitals and other medical services. Thinking of comparison costs when doing a routine procedure—not always something you hear of. You can immediately see the benefit to the member.
Now is the time to proactively market your HSA program. The national media is doing the first by raising awareness of the difficulties in covering medical costs. Your credit union can step in and offer members a solution they can implement today.