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Health insurer says it is tops among co-ops

Health insurer says it is tops among co-ops

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A nonprofit cooperative provider selling insurance in Iowa and Nebraska under the nation's new health care plan says it has surpassed 50,000 individual and group members, a milestone that wasn't expected for at least two more years.

CoOportunity Health is one of 23 Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-OPs) nationwide. The cooperatives were designed, financed and established by the federal government to offer health insurance to those who don't have it available in the workplace, to assure competition in insurance plans and to provide consumers choices. 

CoOportunity got a federal loan of $112,612,100 to start its business. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expects the new nonprofit health insurers to be run by their customers within a few years.

The company says as of Feb. 24 it has already exceeded enrollment projections not expected to be met until 2016.

In Nebraska, the company signed up 20,836 individual and family members; 8,847 small group members; and 2,202 large group members. In Iowa, the company had 12,633 individual and family members, 5,511 small group members; and 149 large group members.

"Our rates are very competitive in Nebraska, especially in Lincoln and western regions of the state where people haven’t previously had a lot of choice," said Leigh McGivern, spokeswoman for CoOportunity, in an email explaining the company's performance.  She said there were more eligible people, in terms of age and income, in Nebraska than in Iowa.  

"We’ve got a great network of motivated brokers and agents in Nebraska. We have that in Iowa, too," MicGivern said.

Other nonprofit CO-OPs doing very well are in Kentucky and New York, according to McGivern.

"Some didn’t fare as well because their business model wasn’t diversified enough and some relied too heavily on working well from Day 1," she said. "CoOportunity Health is one of, if not the, top performer, given the populations of our two states (as compared, for example, to New York.) We have 50,000-plus members,  and so does the N.Y. CO-OP. I’d call that a win, right?"

Enrollment is open for individuals through March 31.


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