Allegacy Federal Credit Union in Winston-Salem, N.C. has offered employees health care and financial wellness services for about a decade, but a new partnership with a local medical center aims to make those services available to the CU’s entire membership.
The credit union and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have teamed up to offer both healthcare and financial services for members of Wake WellQ, a clinic located next to Allegacy FCU’s branch at Biotech Place in Wake Forest’s Innovation Quarter, a hub for startups and innovative companies. The clinic will provide health care for everyday illnesses and wellness needs, along with wellness and financial coaching education from Allegacy FCU’s CUSO, WellQ, via a membership-based service.
For just $35 per visit, members will receive same day treatment for minor illnesses like strep throat, upper respiratory illnesses, poison ivy and pink eye.
“We’ve never had a combination like this before,” said Brett Jordan, the credit union’s AVP of finance and account management, adding that this is the first program the CU is aware of to integrate financial well-being and physical healthcare.
Members will also receive financial benefits, including membership at Allegacy FCU through its WellQ credit union service organization, with an AllHealth Wellness Savings Account, offering above-market dividends, health care financial advising, no-obligation health care financial planning to help prepare for current and future health care costs, and on-site financial education classes. With an AllHealth Wellness Savings Account, members earn financial rewards by being active at a YMCA.
Membership for an individual is $199 and $249 for a family, defined as two adults with dependents (in a shared household) between the ages of 2 and 21. Membership may be free to individuals if their employer opts to add WellQ as a corporate benefit.
The idea for the program originated in 2016 after a lunch between William Satterwhite, M.D., J.D., chief wellness officer at the medical center, and Allegacy FCU Chief Operating Officer Ashley Kohlrus.
Satterwhite’s role had just been created to help the center expand its focus beyond just treating illnesses to a focus on outward wellness as well. “Allegacy has been leader in the community with their employees in the well-being arena,” he said.
Because the credit union had offered healthcare financial advising for employees for about 10 years with 90 percent participation, it knew the model worked, said Kohlrus, so it set about trying to do for members what it was already doing for staff. CU leadership gave Sattterwhite information on the credit union model and then began to toss around ideas.
“I thought 130,000 [credit union members] scattered over ten counties. That’s hard,” Satterwhite said. “But if all those people gave me a $100, I would have $13 million, and I could do a heck of a lot for them. Running with that idea, we then began to create membership models.”
Will more CUs take note?
Allegacy FCU uses employees’ biometric screenings to help them plan their financial lives better, said Chrystal Parnell, vice president of marketing at Allegacy FC.
For example, if an employee has high blood pressure, the credit union offers “Lunch and Learn” seminars about high blood pressure and information on good eating habits to improve heart health. Each quarter, employees get incentives to participate in healthy initiatives through their wellness account.
Healthcare financial advising also integrates staffers’ biometric screenings with their financial plans.
“We know that diabetes develops as you age,” Parnell said. “So you need to make sure that you are mapping that into your financial plan from a medical cost perspective. Our financial planners will be able to leverage your biometric screening results into your financial plan as well. That's one of the services that we've offered to employees that we are now offering through WellQ to our members.”
But employees have to volunteer for their healthcare information to be shared with a financial advisor, said Cathy Pace, president and CEO of the credit union. Members' privacy will be equally protected. “We are not a medical facility, and we don’t try to be one,” she said.
The idea has caught the attention of the Health Care Credit Union Association. HCCUA President and CEO Sherry Essman has expressed interest in having Allegacy FCU present the idea at the association’s Networking and Education Conference in September in Billings, Mont.
This is the first bundled membership of its kind that Essman has heard of, and she called it an innovative idea that other healthcare credit union should take note of.
“The visibility that’s going to give that credit union is just phenomenal,” she said.