Colorado HealthOP is the state’s first non-profit health insurance cooperative (co-op), established with funding granted by the Affordable Care Act and sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Educational and Charitable Foundation. The co-op was created in March 2012, and began selling policies at the start of open enrollment in October 2013, with effective dates starting in January 2014.
The co-op is a member-driven plan, and it encourages members to take an active role both in maintaining their own health and in keeping costs down. Colorado HealthOP provides members with a price comparison tool called The Health Care Blue Book. Members can use it to compare costs for various providers for specific procedures, so that the members know beforehand roughly how much their treatment will cost, and which providers offer the best value.
CO-OP Cool Part #1
As part of the co-op’s initiative to get members to focus on maintaining their health, the plan also rewards members who participate in a few basic preventive care measures throughout the year (a health survey, a biometrics screening and a checkup with the patient’s primary care doctor). Patients who complete all three are bumped up to an “enhanced” plan, which means that they pay less for their care and they also get money deposited to a debit card that they can use to pay for future medical costs.
CO-OP Cool Part #2
Colorado HealthOP does not have shareholders. Instead, the members elect their own board of directors, and members are eligible to serve on the board. Members also get to play a role in determining how excess revenue should be used (lower premiums, enhanced benefits, etc.).
As with all plans that are available in the Colorado marketplace/exchange (Connect for Health Colorado), tax subsidies are available to help cover the premiums for Colorado HealthOP plans if an enrollee qualifies. Cost-sharing subsidies are also available on silver plans, for eligible enrollees.