Frequently Asked Questions about Co-op Care

What is Co-op Care?

Co-op Care is a cooperative health insurance pool that is currently in development here in Minnesota. It would be transparent, member-owned and operated and democratically controlled.

Why are we talking about this now?

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called ObamaCare, permitted the formation of Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-OP). The Universal HealthCare Action Network – UHCAN – was working on bringing a single payer plan to Minnesota. Unfortunately, this has not come to fruition. On a federal level, the public option was eliminated by the usual excessive lobbying efforts of the current insurance companies. The members of UHCAN saw an opportunity under the ACA to develop an alternative to the corporate health insurance companies and chose to change their mission and begin work on developing a Cooperative for the Minnesota Market.

When will this be available?

The Co-op Care Development Team is working towards having this as an offering on the Health Insurance Exchange called MNSure on October 1, 2014 for an enrollment date of January 1, 2015.

What is the advantage to having a cooperative?

The health care law established the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program to increase competition among plans and improve consumer choice. The advantages to members are the same as food co-ops or credit unions where members have input and control and the money stays in the local economy. This is a more fair and just way to deliver health care services. There will not be a corporate middle man, excessive bureaucracy or antiquated technology systems. Under Co-op Care, excess revenue will be used to pay providers fairly, improve care and bring down member premiums rather than contributing to high corporate salaries and excess reserves.

Are there other Co-op Plans in the country?

The federal government has now awarded nearly $2 billion in loans to help create 24 new CO-OPs in 24 states.

What will the benefits and premiums and network look like?

More specific information about this will be available in the future.

What have been the barriers to having Co-op Care operational now?

Co-op Care was in the process of obtaining the federal funding when the fiscal cliff happened and the rest of the funding for Co-ops was eliminated. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has made arrangement with corporate consulting groups who seem to favor cooperatives who are using consultants. Co-op Care is striving to be a true cooperative by building this from the ground up with community input and expertise.

Who can purchase Co-op Care when it’s available?

Individuals without health insurance and businesses of less than 50 employees are eligible to purchase Co-op Care. It is expected that the self-employed, artists, musicians, and any co-op members would be interested in this option.

How can I get involved?

Contact one of the Co-Chairs to offer your expertise by joining the development team or sit on the Board of Directors.
  • Joel Albers PhD,PharmD at
  • Sue Leskela, MSW, LICSW at
Support state efforts to pass legislation that would ensure loans to cooperative health plans and federal efforts to restore the funding for Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-OP). Sign up for the Co-op Care listserve through the web site at Attend monthly meetings on the first Monday of each month. Help facilitate letters of support or letters of intent to purchase from organizations you are involved in or your employer. Like us on facebook – AND Follow us on twitter – Co-op Care@Co_op Care AND View us on youtube – MN CoopCare
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Co-op Care: A Prairie HEALTH Companion proposes to be Minnesota’s first large-scale, non-profit, cooperative health insurance pool for individuals, uninsured, co-ops, small businesses, and non-profits. Unlike profit-driven HMOs, our goal is to serve people based on need, and improve the health of our members and the community.

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Co-op Care: A Prairie HEALTH Companion © 2012 - 2017