Kentucky Health Cooperative gets loan approval to expand into West Virginia

Dec 20, 2013, 07:00 ET from Kentucky Health Cooperative

Nonprofit health issuer takes initial step to offer individual/family and small employer coverage in West Virginia

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Dec. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kentucky's all-new, nonprofit health issuer, Kentucky Health Cooperative, Inc., announced today it has received approval for a federal loan that would allow it to expand into neighboring West Virginia, a preliminary step to seeking approval from the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner.

"This is great news and we are very excited about the possibility of offering health insurance plans in the Mountain State in 2015," said Janie Miller, CEO of Kentucky Health Cooperative, a Consumer-Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Miller noted that if West Virginia insurance officials approve the request, "West Virginians would benefit from more health insurance choices."

The introduction of a new, nonprofit health issuer in West Virginia would be good for consumers because, Miller said, health insurance cooperatives "operate with a strong consumer focus and greater plan accountability with the goal of offering high-quality, low-cost coordinated care."

"Indication is that consumers in Kentucky are embracing the cooperative 'promise,'" Miller said, referring to attributes of this health insurance choice that differentiates it from other options. Health insurance cooperatives are a stand-apart choice from publicly-traded corporations because any surplus revenue collected by health insurance cooperatives – 501(c)29 nonprofit entities – must be used to lower premiums, improve benefits, improve the quality of health care delivered to members, repay federal loans and/or accumulate reasonable and sufficient reserves to provide for enrollment growth, financial stability and stable coverage for plan enrollees.

"In Kentucky, based on enrollment thus far, we are on track and are encouraged by the number of consumers who are showing their support for a nonprofit option. We are pleased that consumers in our Commonwealth's 120 counties are apparently choosing Kentucky Health Cooperative to provide their health insurance coverage in the coming year," Miller said.

Kentucky Health Cooperative Board of Directors chairman Joseph E. Smith noted that Kentucky and West Virginia share more than a state line. Both states have large rural populations, and many residents of both states seek their health care through cross-border providers. Provider networks already account for much cross-border activity.

Health insurance cooperatives may operate in multiple states with appropriate approvals from each state. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has stated its support of expansion in states that face limited issuer competition in health insurance marketplaces.

Miller said the expansion into West Virginia, if approved, would enable the cooperative to increase membership, leverage existing administrative overhead and achieve economies of scale that would benefit its health plan members.

(Kentucky Health Cooperative logo:

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CONTACT: Susan Dunlap, Kentucky Health Cooperative (502) 498-5539

Cary Willis, New West (502) 891-2550 or Andrea Brady (502) 891-2558

SOURCE Kentucky Health Cooperative