Small Health Insurance Co-Ops Seeing Early Success

Karl Sutton leaves his mobile greenhouse in Montana. He sells spinach as part of a farmers co-op, and likes that nonprofit business model for his health insurance, too.

hide captionKarl Sutton leaves his mobile greenhouse in Montana. He sells spinach as part of a farmers co-op, and likes that nonprofit business model for his health insurance, too.


Eric Whitney for NPR

Many of us know the names of some of the big U.S. health insurance companies — like Blue Cross, Aetna and Wellpoint. But what about CoOportunity Health, or Health Republic Insurance of New York? These are among 23 new companies started under the Affordable Care Act. They’re all nonprofit, member-owned insurance cooperatives that were begun, in part, to create more competition and drive prices down.

The co-ops’ rollout was funded almost entirely by federal government loans. Initial enrollment numbers for many look pretty good — but that may not be enough to make co-ops successful.

Karl Sutton, for one, says he’s stoked about being able to buy health insurance through a co-op. Sutton lives in a scenic region of Montana just south of Glacier National Park, where tall, dark forests and taller mountains are blanketed white in early March.

Inside the wamth of his mobile greenhouse near Glacier National Park, Karl Sutton's spinach plants thrive despite the lingering winter chill.

hide captionInside the wamth of his mobile greenhouse near Glacier National Park, Karl Sutton’s spinach plants thrive

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/04/02/293327561/small-health-insurance-co-ops-seeing-early-success?ft=1&f=131849999

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