CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A new insurance provider in the state of Kentucky is ready to expand operations into West Virginia. This week the state Insurance Commission granted approval to the Kentucky Health Cooperative to begin doing business in the Mountain State.
“We share a common border and we do have a lot of Kentuckians who cross the border into West Virginia and we think a lot of West Virginians will cross into Kentucky to seek healthcare,” said CEO Jamie Miller. “We already have contracts in place with a lot of those providers.”
Miller said the company will now begin to build its West Virginia network and will operate here as the West Virginia Health Cooperative.
“We will have an office location in Charleston and we will hire about 15 to 18 office staff,” she said. “We will be building the operations and set up necessary to offer the upcoming fall enrollment through the exchange.”
The company was quite successful in Kentucky in the first year of the Affordable Care Act. Miller would not reveal the number of enrollees, but the federal exchange indicated the company got 75 percent of the commercial insurance market on the Kentucky exchange during the first year.
“Our mission is to serve the individual market and small group market, particularly those who have been uninsured or under insured,” she said. “We know the unfortunate health characteristics are similar to those in Kentucky where we have a lot of individuals.”
Miller said the West Virginia Healthcare Cooperative will operate in a very grassroots way. The company plans to visit and speak to numerous groups across the state to help people determine which plan is available and would best fit their needs. Miller said they hope that exposure will lead people to select their company to provide the coverage when the time comes to make a choice.
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield was West Virginia’s only provider during the first year of the Affordable Care Act.