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Colorado approves CO-OP application

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The Colorado Division of Insurance has given Colorado HealthOP, a nonprofit health insurance cooperative, a certificate of authority.

The co-op now has the approvals it needs to sell health coverage to individuals and employers in Colorado, the company said.

The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Educational and Charitable Foundation – a nonprofit organization that serves farmers and ranchers in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming — sponsored the creation of the co-op.

Organizers started the co-op with $69 million in financing from the federal Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program.

Drafters of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) created the CO-OP program in an effort to increase the level of competition in the health insurance market. CO-OPs are supposed to be nonprofit, member-owned health insurers with no ties to existing for-profit or nonprofit health insurers.

Colorado HealthOP hopes to sell coverage through agents and brokers as well as through Colorado’s PPACA health insurance exchange and through its own website, the company said.

Julia Hutchins, the chief executive officer, previously was head of business development at a nonprofit health plan in Oakland, Calif., and at another nonprofit health plan in Colorado.

The founding board includes Joanne Hill, a former Colorado insurance commissioner, and Lindy Wallace, a former deputy director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

The company said it will start marketing its services, in both English and Spanish, in May.

The company has want ads for a community outreach manager and marketing coordinator on its home page. 

The search for the community outreach manager closed today, and the search for the marketing coordinator closes Friday.

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