ORLANDO, Fla.-Credit unions should prepare for the day when some employees ask them NOT to offer health insurance coverage.

Josh Hilgers, president of Health Partners America, Birmingham, Ala., told attendees at Credit Union Journal's Grow Show that day is coming-and at the same time so is a new CU growth opportunity.

He explained that as the public and private health insurance exchanges develop, become more commonplace and understood by consumers, some people may see a financial advantage in going to an exchange over receiving health benefits from their employer.

Hilgers made that point to illustrate the dramatic change in health insurance delivery that is occurring as a result of the Affordable Care Act. He pointed out that in 2011, 145 million Americans received healthcare coverage through a group employer plan, 40 million had personal policies, 47 million received Medicare, 45 million were on Medicaid, and 40 million were uninsured.

"By the end of 2015, because of the Affordable Care Act, it's expected 185 million Americans will receive health insurance through personal policies," he said.


'Significant Revenue Stream'

Health Partners America and EPL, a technology CUSO owned by 12 CUs across the country, have introduced the Credit Union Exchange Blueprint, a national private health insurance exchange open to all CU employees and members that can be offered through credit unions. Hilgers said the offering will help credit unions generate revenue for the CU by offering health insurance to members and sponsor groups, deepening existing relationships and attracting new members, and tying the credit union more closely to the community.

"There is a significant revenue stream for credit unions from this," said Hilgers.

EPL CEO Wayne Benson explained that two financial models are available, one in which the exchange is offered though a credit union's licensed insurance professional, and another via a revenue-sharing arrangement for the business sent to EPL via the credit union. The exchange can carry the CU's own branding.

EPL is based in Birmingham, Ala.

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