Posted: Jul 21, 2012 4:44 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN
HELENA- Montana's newest insurance company has hired its first President and CEO.
It was five months ago when the Montana Health CO-OP announced it would be receiving a $58 million loan from the federal government to start a new health insurance company.
The cooperative is a non-profit organization run by the people it serves and now the co-op has hired Jerry Dworak to take the reigns as the company's first President and CEO.
"I think the benefit of the cooperative to Montanans is to try to bring affordable, quality, health care to the people that need it the most," Dworak says.
Currently, 60% of Montanans with major medical insurance have policies through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana.
Dworak says when the health insurance exchange goes online in 2014, Montanans will no longer have to rely on their employer to insure them. Instead they will be able to compare insurance products and choose the most competitive policy.
"We anticipate to have at least 10,000 members by the first open enrollment period which is January 2014, and expand that to 40,000 members in the next 2 years after that," Dworak says.
He says the Montana Health Co-Op hopes to keep administrative costs at or below 10%. He says the company will focus on building a provider network so patients have options when choosing a health care professional.
"We don't have an agenda. We don't have existing business that might be at risk. We can go out to the providers and say you've got this thing set-up, this can work and we want to partner with you to do that," Dworak says.
The CO-OP will concentrate on primary care and will address disease management for chronic patients.
The loan to help the cooperative get running is funded through the Affordable Care Act and has been the subject of political debate.
This week U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg (R-MT) announced a plan to rescind $3 billion from cooperative health centers. While this proposal would not affect Montana's loan, it could impact other coops wanting to get started.
Dave Puyear from the Montana Rural Education Association says his organization has requested to see the Montana Health Co-op's application for the loan and was turned down several times.
"This thing got started off on the wrong foot. There has been no transparency and very few average citizens involved in organizing it," Puyear says.
He says his organization has a vested interest in lowering the cost of health care because rural schools have to continually find ways to pay for health insurance for their employees.
He hopes the cooperatives will move forward and begin to operate in a transparent fashion.