2009-07-06 How Long Does it Take to Set Up a Health Co-Op

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President Obama has said he is open to the idea of the health-care cooperative option proposed by Sen. Kent Conrad. But how feasible is it to get such a plan, in which consumer owners would negotiate rates with private insurers, up and running quickly?

Not very, according to Bloomberg. Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, tells Bloomberg that if existing regional co-ops are the model, such plans can take decades to fully develop.

"If we had 25 years, and we weren't staring down the barrel of a shotgun on health costs, it's a pretty neat concept," Keckley told Bloomberg. "It's a politically interesting solution. I just don't think it's a real practical one."

Seattle-based Group Health, the oldest health-care co-op in the country, is an example that many are looking to. Group Health, whose chief executive met recently with Conrad, is a survivor of a movement founded after the Great Depression to provide affordable coverage, particularly in rural areas, the WSJ noted last month.