An arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will hold an open teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Wednesday for people who want to start a new type of nonprofit health plan.

Richard Popper and Barbara Smith, officials at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), will appear on the call to talk about the nuts and bolts of applying to participate in the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan program.

CCIIO is an HHS agency that is responsible for implementing many provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).

PPACA Section 1322 created the CO-OP program in an effort to encourage nonprofit groups to organize alternatives to traditional health insurance arrangements.

CO-OPs are supposed to be member-owned plans with member-dominated boards that have no ties to traditional for-profit or nonprofit health insurers.

HHS has the authority to lend up to $3.8 billion in startup funds and solvency funds to CO-OP organizers.

The first due date for applications is Oct. 17. Decisions on applications are supposed to be made within 75 days of HHS receiving a complete application.

The CCIIO has posted the transcript from an earlier CO-OP teleconference on the Web.

Other CO-OP coverage from National Underwriter Life & Health: