LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A new health insurance company may soon be entering the Maine market with a whole different way of doing business.
Maine Community Health Options recently received a $62 million federal grant to create a health care co-op. Co-ops, which were authorized under the new federal health care law, are non-profit health insurers that are often likened to credit unions because consumers drive their insurance coverage. This co-op will focus on covering small businesses and individuals and is doing focus groups to determine what consumers are looking for. It's office will be in Lewiston, and CEO Kevin Lewis says he expects to sign a lease for space at the old Bates Mill.
Lewiss ays the co-op will encourage patients to use their primary care providers, and encourage health care providers to integrate the physical, mental health and dental care of their patients. The idea is to focus on prevention to reduce the cost of health care for everyone.
Lewis said, "Prevention and primary care are critical to our design, but it's not everything. And people have complex chronic conditions, and this plan will be for them as well."
The co-op will offer enrollment in October of 2013 and the plans will be covering people starting in January of 2014. The company hopes to cover about 15,000 people in its first year, and says its pricing will be competitive. It does not yet have a license from the Maine Department of Insurance, but expects to have one by the end of the year.