HealthyCT, the organization established by the Connecticut State Medical Society and its association of independent physician practices, has applied for federal approval to establish a licensed nonprofit health insurance company known as a Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan, or CO-OP.

The federal health reform law allows and provides funding for CO-OPs–nonprofit, member-run health insurers–to offer coverage through the exchanges, state-level marketplaces for individuals and small businesses to buy coverage.

If approved, HealthyCT could offer health plans through Connecticut’s exchange, as well as in the small group market outside the exchange. HealthyCT officials have pitched it as another option for consumers and employers in a concentrated insurance market. The organization’s application noted that five insurance carriers cover about 95 percent of the individual health insurance market, and 99 percent of the small group market.

The proposal has received support from the state’s Congressional delegation and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, as well as state leaders. The Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, which has sought to establish a public insurance option in the state, gave $50,000 toward the launch of HealthyCT. In addition, Kevin Galvin, a small-business owner who has been active in the push for health reform and serves as chairman of Small Business For A Healthy Connecticut, was named to HealthyCT’s board of directors.

The medical society and its independent practice association announced their plan to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the CO-OP last month.

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Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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