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EARLIER: Shelby woman heads health-insurance co-op

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By Molly Burchett/Kentucky Health News

FRANKFORT, Ky. ­– A Shelby County resident is heading a little-known but key part of federal health reform in Kentucky, a new kind of health insurance – a cooperative that is neither public, like Medicare and Medicaid, or run for profit, like traditional insurance companies.

Janie Miller is CEO of the Kentucky Health Cooperative, which began to offer coverage this week, with the opening of the state health-insurance exchange.

Kentucky is one of 23 states with plans the law designated as Consumer Operated and Oriented, or "co-ops," designed to give for-profit companies more competition and hold down rates. The plans have received more than $2 billion in federal loans to build themselves from scratch, but have been operating largely under the radar.

"The co-op program is an extremely little known part of the Affordable Care Act," Miller said in an interview with Kentucky Health News. "It's been very difficult to get people to understand what the co-op is and why they should care.”

The co-op provision was a political compromise in the Affordable Care Act, developed as an alternative to the "public option" of a government-run plan. "It's the closest thing you can probably get to a public option," Miller said. “We [cooperatives] are created to be the non-profit options in most states…specifically for the uninsured and under-insured.”

To read the full story, click on http://kyhealthnews.blogspot.com/2013/09/ky-health-cooperative-new-kind-...