Health Care Reform Brings Michigan A New, Consumer-Owned Insurer
EAST LANSING — Michigan’s newest health insurance company, Consumers Mutual Insurance of Michigan, is preparing to deliver health insurance that is focused on the needs of consumers, particularly low- and moderate-income residents and small businesses in need of high quality, low-cost insurance options.
Consumers Mutual received $72 million in a federal loan as part of the Affordable Care Act to become a Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) health insurer operating much as a statewide credit union where interests of members control company decisions. Members, including individuals and small businesses, will be owners of the new company.
Health insurance co-ops were created by Congress to enhance competition in the new state-based competitive health insurance marketplace and provide options in markets that have been dominated by an individual or a few insurance companies.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity to fix health care in Michigan by creating consumer-focused health care products aimed at wellness, evidence-driven care and transparency,” said Dennis Litos, CEO of the new operation, headquartered in East Lansing. “We intend to be full and vigorous players in the health insurance marketplace exchange when it opens for business, and are already preparing to offer very competitive products to individuals and small businesses who are in need of high quality but affordable health insurance on and off the exchange.”
Litos is an experienced health care executive with 35 years of experience in health care administration, including 18 years at the CEO level for two large hospital systems — Ingham Regional Medical Center of Lansing (now McLaren Lansing) and Doctors Medical Center of Modesto, Calif.
Litos comes to Consumers Mutual after serving as a principal consultant with Lansing-based Health Management Associates, where he spent time developing an integrated health care delivery system for California’s Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties in preparation for health coverage expansion due to 2014 health reform changes.
Consumers Mutual has opened offices at 2601 Coolidge Road, Suite 200, in East Lansing. It has about 23 staff today, working with physicians, insurance agents and others to develop products to meet market needs. The company will be ready to offer insurance later this summer through insurance agents, and on Oct. 1 of this year through the health insurance marketplace when it opens.
Consumers Mutual believes its members will have the right to:
* A healthy partnership between their doctors, hospitals, and Consumers Mutual
* Coverage of a wide range of responsible health care services
* Reasonable out-of-pocket expenses
* Open transparency between patients, physicians and Consumers Mutual
* Easy access to medications that reduce illness and disabilities
* Development of health care data and delivery of that data to physicians to assist decision making
* Prompt, plain language explanations and opportunities for discussion with Consumers Mutual professionals
“This pledge will drive our company toward creating smart insurance options for consumers that will help keep them healthy, empower medical providers to do the right thing, and help hold down costs, and then deliver those options to our owner-customers,” said Litos. “We have a passion to succeed in this unique mission – and in doing so, will help create a healthier Michigan.”
For more information, visit www.consumersmutual.org.