END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (42 states)

Time: D H M S

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL CO-OP.

It occurs to me that I haven't really written a lot about the ACA's CO-OP organizations, which were created by the Affordable Care Act in order to help spur competition and keep prices down. Here's a basic summary of what the CO-OPs are about from the Commonwealth Fund:

The nonprofit, consumer-governed health plans were included in the law as an alternative to the so-called public plan option. Modeled on successful health insurance cooperatives such as Group Health Cooperative in Washington, the CO-OPs were designed to broaden the coverage options available to consumers, inject competition into highly concentrated health insurance markets and provide more affordable, consumer-focused alternatives to traditional insurance companies.

To help these new plans find footing, the health law offered low-interest loans that were tied to a number of requirements designed to differentiate CO-OPs from traditional insurers (which were barred from the program). Recipients were required to:

  • Reinvest all profits to improve pricing and/or benefits for members;
  • Establish governance by a majority vote of members, with ethics and conflict-of-interest standards that guard against insurance industry involvement; and
  • Operate with a “strong consumer focus.”

I've noted before that I am not here to shill for the private, profit-based insurance companies, though my own family happens to be enrolled through one of them at the moment (BCBS of Michigan) due to our particular situation. However, the CO-OPs are a bit different. They're non-profits (well, sort of...they do have to be able to repay their startup funds) and are the closest thing to a Public Option that we're gonna get out of the ACA, so they're at least worth considering.

Therefore, while I stress that I am not necessarily endorsing them over any of their competitors in each state, here's links to each of the CO-OPs which will be operational for 2016 (note: Some operate in more than one state & the Montana-based CO-OP operates in Idaho under a different name):