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    Better rates and website improvements could boost CO-OP enrollment


    Surpassing expectations

    Among those surpassing enrollment goals during their initial enrollment period was Health Republic Insurance of New York (formerly the Freelancers Health Service Corporation) cooperative, which is often cited as the nation’s most successful ACA CO-OP. The CO-OP had some 112,000 enrollees as of April 2014--compared with a goal of 30,000--attracting 19% of those who purchased insurance through New York State of Health, the state’s ACA insurance marketplace.

    The CO-OP offered some of the lowest premiums on the exchange. It was developed by the Freelancers Union, an association of independent New York workers, which has been offering a highly popular health insurance program for decades. However, the union recently spun off the CO-OP as a separate entity and sold its traditional insurance program to Empire BlueCross BlueShield.

    Others exceeding their expectations include Maine Community Health Options, which attracted 44,000 members--more than 80% of the exchange plans purchased by Mainers for 2014. CoOportunity Health has more than 85,000 members in Iowa and Nebraska. The Kentucky Health Care Cooperative is also widely cited as a CO-OP success story. The CO-OP captured 75% of the business on Kentucky’s health insurance exchange during its initial open enrollment period.

    Among those pretty much hitting enrollment projections were the Montana Health CO-OP with 5,400 enrollees, and Colorado HealthOp, which garnered about 10% of exchange enrollment in its state. New Mexico Health Connections enrolled about 10,000 members. The Nevada Health Cooperative, hampered by problems with the state’s malfunctioning Nevada Health Link exchange, fell a bit below its enrollment goal, despite signing up 37% of the 13,000 Nevada residents who purchased insurance through the exchange.

    Among the CO-OPs facing challenges is Illinois’ Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Company, which enrolled just 2,451 members and lost more than $4 million in its first quarter of operations. Over that period, the Chicago-based insurer recorded $1.9 million in premium revenue against $6.1 million in expenses, including $1.6 million in payments for medical services and prescription drugs and $4.5 million in claims adjustment and administrative expenses, according to a filing with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

    Massachusetts’ Minuteman Health, Inc. is re-launching, after attracting about 2,000 members against projections of 37,000. Massachusetts Health Connector’s website failures presented additional problems. Because of technical glitches, officials allowed 300,000 residents to enroll in temporary Medicaid and another 100,000 to remain in the state’s Commonwealth Care program for another year--thereby reducing the potential market for Minuteman’s products.

    Bob Pieper
    Bob Pieper is a freelance health care writer based in St. Louis. He is the former senior editor for AOA News.


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