A new alliance between the Iowa and Nebraska Credit Union Leagues and CoOportunity Health, a multistate co-op, is poised to offer another health insurance choice that features lower expenses and more benefits.
The Des Moines, Iowa-based CoOportunity Health is a new health insurance consumer operated and oriented plan that was created as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to create new competition and new choice, the leagues said.
It is one of 24 co-ops approved nationwide, but the only one to serve Iowa and Nebraska. CoOportunity Health is managed by and for its members and any savings will be used to increase member benefits and lower premiums, according to the leagues.
Iowa and Nebraska credit unions will be the exclusive financial institution distribution channel for CoOportunity Health when open enrollment for health insurance begins on Oct. 1, the leagues said. Between Iowa and Nebraska, there are more than 180 credit unions serving approximately 1.45 million members.
Group Benefits Ltd. will serve as the preferred broker for the credit union and CoOportunity Health partnership in both states, according to the leagues. GBL is based in Urbandale, Iowa and has more than 40 employees and a network of more than 1,000 agents in Iowa and Nebraska.
“Through our partnership with CoOportunity Health and GBL, Iowa and Nebraska credit unions will be able to help our members closely pair the expense of health care with their financial well-being,” said Scott Sullivan, CEO of the Nebraska league.
The partnership among the Iowa and Nebraska leagues and CoOportunity Health has been in development for more than two years and is believed to be the first of its kind among cooperatives nationwide, the leagues said.
It will give participating Iowa and Nebraska credit unions the tools to provide member outreach and education on health care reform while making CoOportunity Health’s insurance options available to individuals, families and businesses.
“Credit unions know that financial well-being is directly linked to overall health and well-being. We believe this link will only increase in the months and years ahead,” said Patrick Jury, CEO/president, of the Iowa league.
Two priorities are to help credit unions decrease the average age of members and increase market share, the league said. Through this partnership, CoOportunity Health and credit unions believe potential target markets will be young adults, uninsured, Hispanics and small businesses. “Credit unions serve as trusted advisors in their local communities,” Jury said. “Through our partnership with CoOportunity Health, our members and those who seek out membership will have access to vital information and new health insurance options at a time of great confusion and need.”
Jury said beyond offering credit union members an affordable, member-focused health insurance alternative, another benefit of the partnership is that credit union health savings accounts can be established when a prospect enrolls in a qualified high-deductible health insurance plan through CoOportunity Health. Credit unions in both states are also looking into group health insurance plans as an option for their employees.