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KY insurer considering branching out to WV

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A nonprofit health issuer in Kentucky took the initial steps to offer individual and family health coverage to small employers in the Mountain State.

Kentucky's all-new, not-for-profit health issuer, Kentucky Health Cooperative, Inc., announced Tuesday it received approval for a federal loan that would allow it to expand into neighboring West Virginia — a preliminary step to seeking approved from the West Virginia offices of the Insurance Commissioner.

"This is great news and we are very excited about the possibility of offering health insurance plans in the Mountain State in 2015," said Janie Miller, CEO of Kentucky Health Cooperative, a Consumer-Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Miller noted that if West Virginia insurance officials approve the request. "West Virginians would benefit from more health insurance choices."

Jason Butcher, public information specialist with the insurance commissioner's office, said the competition would be welcome in the Mountain State.

"Right now it's premature to comment because we haven't received their application," Butcher said of the company. "However, we are pleased to hear of health insurers interested in doing business in West Virginia."

Miller said the expansion into West Virginia, if approved, would enable increases in membership, leverage existing administrative overheard and achieve economies of scale that would benefit health plan members.

"In Kentucky, based on enrollment thus far, we are on track and are encouraged by the number of consumers who are showing their support for a nonprofit option. We are pleased that consumers in our Commonwealth's 120 counties are apparently choosing Kentucky Health Cooperative to provide their health insurance coverage in the coming year," Miller added.

Butcher said although the application hasn't been received the insurance commissioner's office welcomes the competition, as it "helps to bring quality products and services to our citizens."