Insurance co-op could be an option on Your Health Idaho

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by Karen Zatkulak

KREM.com

Posted on June 17, 2014 at 7:48 AM

BOISE -- There could soon be more options when it comes to Idaho's state-run insurance exchange.

On Friday, an insurance co-op became licensed to sell plans here. They're hoping to offer Idahoans a different type of service and lower premiums.

Mountain Health is a co-op that works just like any other. Those buying policies are members who help run the organization and benefit when it does well.

"The co-op is a totally not-for-profit, true not-for-profit, where all the profits go back to the members, we're ultimately board members for the co-op," said Doug Dammrose, Executive Director for Mountain Health.

It's an idea backed by the Affordable Care Act.

Dammrose says there are similar co-ops in 26 states, but Idaho never had one until now.

Dammrose says it's needed to increase competition and drive down premium prices, especially since only four carriers currently offer plans on Your Health Idaho.

He says the more Mountain Health makes, the cheaper insurance costs for its customers.

"The idea that we have a very lean administrative staff, and therefore we don't have highly paid executives and corporate profits, and because it's not for profit we can keep the cost of our insurance products extremely low," said Dammrose.

The Department of Insurance says Mountain Health has filed their policies for approval and are now being reviewed. If accepted, they will offer metallic level plans on Idaho's exchange for 2015.

Mountain Health has only four employees in Idaho and uses vendors for many services. But, they say despite their size - they're hoping to offer better plans.

"I understand that can be a concern but we are backed by $85 million in federal solvency money so people can get claims paid, we think that our lean administrative budget allows us to keep that price low," said Dammrose.

We checked with Your Health Idaho today and they told us they are committed to providing a wide variety of health insurance options for Idaho families.

In September, the Department of Insurance will recommend which providers can sell their policies on the exchange.

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