LEWISTON — Months after Community Health Options stopped selling new individual health insurance plans because it was losing too much money, the state’s only health insurance co-op says its financial situation is now a little better than leaders had expected.

In its first 2016 quarterly statement to the Maine Bureau of Insurance, the Lewiston nonprofit reported it had to draw on reserves less than anticipated — about $8.5 million rather than the nearly $10 million it had expected.

Insurance claims were slightly lower than projected. Expenses were about the same as projected, according to CEO Kevin Lewis. 

Community Health Options reported cash investments of $83.9 million at the end of March, compared to $76.4 million at the end of 2015.

Lewis said the co-op’s financial situation feels more stable, in part because it’s slashed administrative expenses and because CHO, like other insurance companies, now knows what its 2015 claims actually were rather than relying on estimates and projections.  

However, CHO continues to seek firm financial footing. Last week, it asked the Maine Bureau of Insurance to let it raise the price of its 2017 individual health insurance plans by an average of 22.8 percent and small-group plans by an average of 3.5 percent.


Other Maine insurance companies also asked for double-digit increases in individual plans sold through the federal marketplace, though CHO’s request was the highest.  

The Maine Bureau of Insurance continues to monitor CHO’s overall financial situation.

Co-ops are health insurance companies run by members for members. They were created through the Affordable Care Act in an effort to increase competition among health insurers and to provide consumers with greater choice in the marketplace.

CHO began selling plans in 2013 and quickly rocketed to the top of Maine’s individual health insurance market, attracting members with its low premiums, broad network of doctors and hospitals and unique program benefits.

At one point, CHO was the only co-op in the country making money. That changed last year when CHO’s insurance claims were higher than expected.

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