Friday, January 04, 2013

Co-ops over the cliff

The New Year's Day "fiscal cliff deal fiasco" also included some bad news for proponents of so-called "co-ops." As we discussed last Spring, these are essentially "mini-insurers designed to compete with the big boys. CO-OP's (the misnomered Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan) would be state-licensed, and available both inside and outside of the Exchanges."

What might have been...

Turns out, the CO-OPs are now taking their turn under the bus:

"The new fiscal cliff deal could hurt the nonprofit groups that want to set up Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) health insurers ... Section 644, the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan program contingency fund section, would cut 90 percent of the CO-OP program loan funding that is not already "obligated."

And thanks to co-blogger Nate, we already know that "19 non-profits offering coverage in 18 states ... have already been awarded $1 billion. That leaves $2.8 billion left to be "had"."

Or not.

As one might imagine, proponents of the CO-OP plans are less than pleased:

"John Morrison, president of the National Alliance of State Health CO-OPs (NASHCO), is blasting [the aforementioned] Section 644 ... Since long before the fiscal cliff agreement, the big health insurance companies have fought the new CO-OPs because they represent a real opportunity to lower health insurance premiums and allow consumers to belong to a member-governed heath insurer"

Funny, we used to call them MEWAs, and that's not a good thing. As for lowering health insurance premiums, well, color me skeptical.
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