CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kentucky-based nonprofit insurance cooperative will join West Virginia’s federal health insurance exchange in time for the 2015 Affordable Care Act open-enrollment period, state Insurance Commissioner Mike Riley said.
The commission approved the Kentucky Health Cooperative May 15, Riley said.
The cooperative plans to have products ready for the next open-enrollment period in 2015 and will join Highmark West Virginia, the only insurer to participate in the first ACA exchange in the state.
“They have not filed any products with us yet, but moving forward, they will be able to provide [ACA-compliant] coverage in West Virginia,” Riley said. “They will still need to file their products and have them approved, but their goal is to be prepared to offer coverage on the exchange in 2015.”
Health insurance cooperatives, unlike private health insurance companies, are owned by the people it insures. Co-ops like the Kentucky Health Cooperative are not government-run, and are designed to provide an alternative to state-provided and single-payer insurance coverage.
There are cooperatives in 23 states. According to Susan Dunlap, director of communications for the Kentucky Health Cooperative, a West Virginia Health Cooperative will be formed under the umbrella of the Kentucky co-op to provide products for West Virginia residents.
“We are contiguous states, and we share a lot of the same health challenges. There are opportunities to realize a lot of efficiency in having two combined cooperatives, including shared costs,” Dunlap said. “There are many West Virginians who cross into Kentucky for their health-care needs, whether it’s a hospital or a Kentucky-based doctor’s office, so it just made a lot of sense…