A nonprofit cooperative has been set up to help create affordable health insurance for small business workers across the state.
That in itself is intriguing news. But it becomes more intriguing when you learn who the president and CEO of the co-op is.
The South Carolina Health Cooperative was announced Wednesday at press conferences in Greenville and Columbia. That was the public’s official introduction to Cooper Littlejohn, a 20 year old Seneca resident and student at Georgia Tech. An intern at an insurance agency last year, Littlejohn is now one of the youngest healthcare executives in the country.
But maybe a new idea requires new blood. After all, the group is trying something that has never been done in South Carolina.
The Cooperative is the first licensed health insurance co-op in the state, and one of very few nationwide. Its goal is to provide a resource for small businesses in South Carolina to bundle their employees together in order to better negotiate with insurance companies.
Insurance providers often base premiums on how many employees are covered by the plan. By lumping small businesses’ employees together into a large group, SCHC hopes to make premiums more affordable.
Littlejohn began creating the co-op while still an intern at the Nuttal Insurance Agency in Seneca. He says he hopes to help provide benefits for employees who may not otherwise receive them.
The end goal is to lower costs for the small business owners. If we can lower their health insurance costs, we can put more money in their pocket, which they can use to grow their businesses.
The state legislature allowed for the formation of health insurance cooperatives with a 2008 law. Littlejohn has spent the past year going through the necessary procedures to get a license. He says SCHC is ready to move forward.
Right now, we will start accepting applications for our first set of members. Then, hopefully, in the first of the year, we will have negotiated our rates with our insurance carriers… Immediately thereafter, we’ll be able to enroll the small businesses and their employees onto the program.
State senator David Thomas (R-Greenville) called the new co-op a “breakthrough in cost containment.”
I’m hopeful South Carolina small business owners will see this as a very positive step toward helping their employees, as well as their bottom lines.
Littlejohn says the group is currently in negotiations with several insurance carriers.