This is potentially good news: “Freelancers CO-OP given green light from N.J.”
Looks like the Freelancers CO-OP of New Jersey is sponsored by, but independent of, the Freelancers Union (which doesn’t currently offer insurance in Jersey).
From the Freelancers Union website:
- CO-OP stands for Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan.
- Thanks to $340 million in low-interest and no-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Freelancers Union will sponsor CO-OPs in New York, New Jersey, and Oregon beginning in January 2014.
- CO-OPs are private, nonprofit health insurers whose plans are designed to offer quality, affordable, consumer-friendly health plans in every state.
- The government has set aside a total of $3.8 billion for CO-OPs in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as the Health Care Reform bill).
- CO-OPs will be open to all comers, including independent workers typically shut out of the traditional healthcare market. Americans making less than 400% of the federal poverty level will be eligible to receive financial support from the government to pay for their CO-OP health plan.
How CO-OPs will work:
- CO-OPs will level the playing field for individuals and small groups who are ignored in the current health insurance market, which is largely geared toward large companies. CO-OPs offer more, better, and less expensive health insurance options to consumers.
- Nonprofit insurance plans in different states will enter the market and compete with private insurers. This state-level market is called the Exchange, and it’s designed to make it easier for consumers to shop for and understand insurance plans.
- The CO-OPs expect to start enrolling people in the in Fall of 2013 and begin offering coverage in January 2014.
I’ve not been following the minutiae of Obamacare implementation well enough to know if this something to be optimistic about, but it sounds good on the surface. The bigger picture, less so. The state marketplaces appear to be experiencing moderate to severe bungling getting launched (except for maybe Oregon, who even budgeted for hipster troubadours?). This is an issue where I’m really more concerned as a consumer than as a citizen. Once the public option was off the table (never mind the fact that “health care reform” is discussed separately from the farm bill), it was clear we’d be getting screwed. I don’t have the bandwidth to ponder whether the screwing is more or less severe than what we’d have without Obamacare. Certainly it bought already privileged kids like myself a couple years of cushion by being able to stay on our parents insurance till our 26th. But my time is just about up …