Writing about co-ops: A taste of the complexity

About Joanne Kenen

Contributing editor to Politico Magazine and former health care editor-at-large, Politico, Commonwealth Fund journalist in residence and assistant lecturer at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

I wrote about co-ops as an undercovered health reform topic last month and provided some resources about how to cover them, either from a big-picture perspective about their role in the exchanges across the country next year or if you are looking at co-ops in your state or region – if they exist.

Health Affairs and RWJF have published a brief that explains in more detail about how they are set up, and the challenges they face. The brief  gives a  description of several of the co-ops – here are the top three on the list to give a taste of the variety. (There  are more in the brief and the National Alliance of State Health Cooperatives has a full list (PDF).

  • Evergreen Health Cooperative, established by Peter Beilenson, a former Baltimore City health commissioner, intends to provide high-quality care to members throughout Maryland with premiums costing 20-30 percent less than those of traditional insurance to help keep people from developing more serious illnesses. It has been awarded $65 million in loans.
  • HealthyCT is a nonprofit health plan sponsored by the Connecticut State Medical Society (CSMS) and CSMS-IPA, a statewide independent practice association of providers. HealthyCT will focus on encouraging members to use patient-centered medical homes. It has been awarded $76 million in loans.
  • Compass Cooperative Health Network in Arizona is sponsored by local experts in insurance, chronic disease coordination, use of health information technology, and business formation. It will begin on a regional basis within Arizona and then expand statewide over time. It has been awarded $93 million.

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