By Joe Gardyasz


CoOportunity Health announced this morning that it will partner with University of Iowa Health Alliance in offering two types of health insurance plans to Iowa residents and small businesses this fall through the Iowa Health Insurance Marketplace.  


"We believe this groundbreaking partnership is not only a unique opportunity for two new players in the Iowa health care landscape - University of Iowa Health Alliance and CoOportunity Health - to work together, but our collaboration means Iowans will benefit significantly from these unique health insurance options, particularly this year when the marketplace opens for the first time," said Dan Kueter, executive director of University of Iowa Health Alliance.


The UI Health Alliance, formed last year, includes Genesis Health System, Mercy-Cedar Rapids, Mercy Health Network and University of Iowa Health Care, encompassing more than 50 hospitals and more than 160 clinics across the state, among them Mercy Medical Center - Des Moines and Mercy - West Lakes in West Des Moines.


CoOportunity, a Des Moines-based nonprofit health insurance cooperative, is one of six insurers that have submitted applications with the Iowa Insurance Division to offer coverage through the online marketplace, which is being set up under the provisions of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.


The two plans that CoOportunity will offer include a "Choice" plan, an open-access, tiered-benefit design plan that offers significant savings when UI Health Alliance facilities and clinicians are used for services. A second "Preferred" plan will allow insured members to receive more savings by using UI Health Alliance providers exclusively. Both plans will also be sold to individuals and companies of all sizes outside the Marketplace.


In a release, CoOportunity Health said it is in discussions with other hospitals, physicians and ancillary providers across the state to participate in its health plan offerings. Pending final approval by the Iowa Insurance Division, CoOportunity Health intends to market the University of Iowa Health Alliance product offerings in more than 75 percent of the counties in Iowa.


"This is an unprecedented era in the world of health insurance and health care," said David Lyons, CoOportunity Health's CEO. "It's the ideal environment for nonprofits like CoOportunity and the member organizations of UI Health Alliance to work together to bring about real change in the status quo, to focus on what should matter most in health care: the quality of patient care and more efficient use of resources."