The insurer took the nine-month hiatus from enrolling new members in the exchange created by President
The program was among about two dozen privately run health co-ops that sprang up across the country following the 2010 passage of the Obama administration's health care law. They provided medical coverage with premiums far lower than plans offered by traditional health insurance companies.
But within two years, half of the programs quietly folded — undermined by political attacks, financial miscalculations and the volatility of the health insurance marketplace. Just four remain — in
The Montana Health Co-op, which also serves customers in neighboring
"When all the other co-ops were going down, we were losing money, too," said
This year, the co-op is projecting
So confident is the co-op about its financial health that Dworak said it has the capacity to absorb all 64,000 Montanans who buy their insurance through the state's exchange. It now enrolls about 20,000 people who purchase individual plans on the exchange.
"Right now they are very strong, and I feel very comfortable," Rosendale said.
But Rosendale, who recently announced a bid for the
Political and financial volatility in the country's health care system has prompted a further surge in premiums. In
During the heady debates over the Obama administration's health care law in 2010, a so-called public option was supposed to spur competition in the health insurance marketplace. When that effort failed, privately run health insurance co-ops emerged as alternatives.
Co-op administrators like
"There would be a lot of uninsured Americans again because members would have to pay their entire premiums," Turney said.
An analysis by the
But the analysis noted many of them grew too fast and did not have the necessary reserves to handle the higher-than-expected number of enrollees. As many as 1 million people enrolled in the co-ops before a substantial part of the system began collapsing.
"The people of