What does the Affordable Care Act mean by its CO-OP provision?
Even Bill Oemichen, president and CEO of Cooperative Network (CN), the trade association for cooperatives in both Wisconsin and Minnesota, can’t be certain.
Here’s how Oemichen addressed the issue at CN’s annual meeting:
“The Affordable Care Act includes a Consumer Oriented and Operated Plan provision (CO-OP) that incentivizes the creation of new nonprofit health insurance companies. The law implies through use of the “CO-OP” acronym that the new insurers should focus on consumers rather than on stockholder profits and, therefore, operate like cooperatives.
“However,” Oemichen continued, “the law does not explicitly require the new insurers to actually be incorporated as cooperatives. Some national cooperative leaders viewed this as a significant cooperative reputation risk issue because these new insurers could be labeled as a cooperative while not actually functioning like a cooperative.