As the cost of health care continues to rise, health care co-ops are becoming the go-to choice for people who can’t afford to take the traditional route for medical needs. Self-employed consultant, Alesha Adamson, told KATU’s Anna Canzano she joined Patient/Physician Cooperative (PPC), a local health co-op in Oregon, when she could no longer afford her health plan.
Membership fees for the group range between $40 and $90 per month, giving patients access to doctors, dentists, and discounts on prescription drugs.
Given the fact that the average COBRA plan can set consumers back $650 per month, it’s no surprise so many consumers have flocked to co-ops for basic medical care. Here’s what you need to know about them:
These non-profit organisations typically provide health coverage to members for a monthly fee and bill themselves as low-cost alternatives to traditional health care. Co-ops are a boon to the self-employed, who can pay hundreds of dollars per month to provide their own health coverage.
The country’s largest co-op is Health Partners who offer traditional comprehensive coverage for as low as $88 a month. Not everything is covered by a co-op plan, however. Hospital visits are typically not covered, though a few hospitals participate.
Like most alternative health care vehicles, co-ops have have their fair share of critics. While proponents say co-ops help control overall health care costs, Timothy Stoltzfus Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University and an expert on health care policy, was dubious in this statement to the New York Times:
“I don’t see how it does anything to control costs,” He said. “I don’t see much in the legislation outside of Medicare reforms that will control costs, except for the public plan.”
If you’re interested in looking into joining a health co-op, a good place to start is the National Cooperative Business Association, which lists co-ops in different regions of the country.