Feds Awarded Secret, Last-Minute Loan To Struggling Obamacare-Created Insurer

The federal government approved a $65 million emergency loan to a nonprofit insurer operating in Kentucky’s Obamacare exchange just days before the second open enrollment period began in order to keep the company solvent, the administration announced this week.

The Kentucky Health Cooperative is one of many nonprofit insurance co-ops created in 2013 with the advent of Obamacare. The co-ops are supposed to provide competition to large, for-profit insurers; they were created with hefty federal loans off the bat as an appeasement to Obamacare critics who were disappointed that the law didn’t include a public option.

Just a year in, several of the insurers are struggling to stay afloat. Kentucky Health Cooperative received its loan on Nov. 10, just five days before this year’s open enrollment period began. But the administration did not make the decision public until one month later — although customers may have been wary about purchasing the company’s plans had they known it was in trouble.

CMS announced the loan this week instead, along with a $22 million solvency loan to Wisconsin co-op Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative that was awarded Dec. 15. A CMS spokesman told the AP that the agency waited to announce both awards together. Kentucky Health Cooperative’s latest $65 million brings the company’s total to over $146 million in federal taxpayer-backed loans over the past year; Common Ground has received almost $108 million in loans.