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Life Health > Health Insurance > Health Insurance

Montana CO-OP hopes to expand into Idaho

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HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A nonprofit health insurer in Montana has been granted another $27 million in federal funding to expand into Idaho.

The Montana Health CO-OP announced its potential expansion on Monday, Lee Newspapers of Montana reported.

Jerry Dworak, the president of the CO-OP, said it still must apply to the Idaho Department of Insurance to be licensed to sell insurance there.

The CO-OP is one of three firms selling health insurance policies on Montana’s federally operated Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange. If approved, the CO-OP would be the fifth company selling policies in Idaho.

The CO-OP received a $51 million PPACA CO-OP startup loan in 2012.

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded the CO-OP $1.84 million in startup funding for the Idaho project. If the project is approved, the company will receive a $25 million operational loan.

The CO-OP hopes to start selling plans in Idaho by November 2014, with coverage taking effect in January 2015.

Dworak said the expansion into Idaho, if approved, would enable the CO-OP to spread its overhead costs among more policyholders and it could reduce costs.

The drafters of PPACA created the “Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans” program in an effort to increase the level of competition in the individual and small-group health insurance markets. CO-OP plans are supposed to be nonprofit, member-owned organizations. Existing for-profit and nonprofit health insurers cannot own or control CO-OPs, and PPACA prohibits the CO-OP member-owners from selling the plans or converting them to for-profit charters.

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