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Co-Op Health Insurance - Cooperative Healthcare Plans

Agnus Smith | Published: June 14, 2018

Hand holding circle

When you hear the word co-op, the words sharing and helping probably come to mind. In an era where health insurance is mandated by law and is becoming increasingly expensive, you, and millions of other Americans are seeking affordable health insurance plans. Health insurance cooperative healthcare plans may be your best bet to finding affordable, high-quality health insurance; they have already been the saving grace to countless Americans.

What Are Co-Op Health Insurance Plans?

Co-op stands for Community Operated and Oriented Plan Program. A co-op health insurance policy can also be known as a medical cooperatives and health insurance co-op. Health insurance co-ops are private health insurance plans that serve a small group of people and is owned and operated by the members of that small group of people. Health insurance co-ops are a type of mutual insurance plan.

A mutual insurance plan is a plan that is owned and operated by the members of the group that owns the plan. All of the money that is earned by the group directly benefits its members by reducing costs (e.g. premiums), being distributed to the members, or being held within the group to benefit the entire group, which is why co-op health insurance plans are so affordable.

Who Owns Health Insurance Co-Ops?

Health insurance co-ops are owned by companies, small markets, and other groups. The groups that own health insurance co-ops can be private or public, and these groups can be national, state, or local. The owners can be medical professionals and healthcare businesses (e.g. hospitals, health clinics, charities, etc.). Though there are owners of the plans, there are no hierarchies. The owners are also members themselves and do not receive better benefits or preferential treatment for being the owner.

Cooperative health members

How Much Cooperative Plans Cost?

Health insurance co-ops are significantly cheaper than regular health insurance. The monthly fees are called membership fees, not premiums. The average cost of a membership fee runs about $40 to $90. To put that into perspective, regular COBRA insurance premiums can cost as much as $650 per month.

Self-employed people are notorious for having expensive monthly premiums because they do not receive health benefits through their job, which is why they are the most common members of health insurance co-ops. You most likely will not receive poorer coverage as a co-op member. The coverage that you can receive as a member is medical, dental, prescriptions medications, and any other form of healthcare that is typically covered by a regular health insurance plan. In some cases, the coverage you can receive from a co-op plan is the same if not better quality than plans from reputable insurance companies.

Pros And Cons Of Healthcare Cooperative Plans

Though affordable health insurance that covers almost as much- if not just as much- as a regular insurance plan sounds appealing, being a part of a health insurance cooperative is not for everyone. The downfalls of being a part of a self-governed group may outweigh the benefits for you. It up to you to weight out the pros and cons of being a part of a medical cooperative if for you.

Health Co-Op Pros

Affordable cost and optimal coverage is definitely a benefit to enrolling in one of these plans. The earnings of the group are held inside the group to benefit the group as a whole. The plan being exclusive to a small group of people allow for the common necessities to be covered because the group can narrow down their necessities and has more profit to cover their necessities. The nonprofit aspect and self-regulation aspect go hand-in-hand. Being non-profit means they are not regulated by the government or major corporations. Since the plan is owned and operated by its members, not the government or major corporations, the coverage is based on the needs of the members because the members can control what is covered and what is not.

Health Co-Op Cons

Being a part of a group that you have to conform to the group. For example, if you are a member of a faith-based or politically-based health insurance co-op, you may not be able to receive coverage for procedures, medications, doctors, and clinics that are against the groups’ common beliefs. The majority rules, and if you do not agree with the majority, you are out of luck.

Co-ops lack government oversight and incentive for competition. Since they are not supervised by the government, co-ops will fail if they run out of funding because they can not receive government assistance (e.g. loans) like major insurance companies can. Health co-ops will not be driven to improve because they are not competing with other major companies.

Where Can You Find Co-Op Health Insurance?

You can find co-op health insurance plans the same way you find traditional health insurance plans. A quick search will pull up local co-op options in your area, and you can even find co-op health insurance plans through the marketplace.

Because many co-op health plans are religiously based, you also may be able to talk to anyone at your local church to see if they have any recommendations. Ask around your community and circle of friends to see what co-op plans they may be enrolled in, along with getting a good idea of how well these plans would fit your needs.

Examples of Co-Op Health Plans

An example of a health insurance co-op is a health insurance cooperative that is owned and operated by an organization of senior citizens in a particular state. The medical co-op is owned by a geriatric doctor. The members of the plan are all over the age of 62 years old, and they all decide to cover all doctors, treatments, and procedures that are most common to their needs as senior citizens.

Co-Op Health Insurance Quotes and More

First Quote Health is a simple, user-friendly tool that you can use to get insurance quotes. First Quote Health can provide you with a free quote to find co-op health insurance. You can also use First Quote Health if you are interested in getting quotes for regular health insurance.

The first step to getting free health insurance quotes is to go to the First Quote Health website and enter your zip code. After your location is confirmed, you will select your preferences regarding a plan and your personal needs. The site will take a few minutes to process and then give you a list of deals and plans that will be best for you.

Health insurance co-ops are an excellent way to get affordable health insurance that is of the same quality as the plans from most reputable insurance companies. You may have more of your health needs covered because the plan is owned and operated by its members.

However, you must weight out the pros and cons to determine if joining a co-op plan is best for you. If you decide that it is or are interested in another type of insurance plan, visit First Quote Health’s website today to get free health insurance quotes.