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More on the Nonprofit Cooperative Option for Health Care


Nonprofit medical cooperatives still seem to be in the picture as an alternative to the so-called public option as part of the medical reforms being discussed.

In my last blog on this issue, I mentioned there are very few co-ops in the GuideStar database, and I expressed some doubts about the capabilities and scalability of creating new nonprofit co-ops to provide health services. To learn more about how co-ops work, I contacted a friend, Stephen Delfin, who serves as the executive director of the National Credit Union Foundation. Steve says that “credit unions are not-for-profit, member-owned financial service cooperatives. The thread between different types of coops is the non-profit, member-ownership stature and commitment to social responsibility.”

He says they all operate with a commitment to the following principles:

  • Open and voluntary membership
  • Democratic control
  • Non-discrimination
  • Service to members
  • Distribution to members
  • Building financial stability
  • Ongoing education (financial)
  • Cooperation among cooperatives
  • Social responsibility


Steve also told me that the co-op is a “business model uniquely positioned to tap into the post-economic melt-down psyche of Americans. Whether in health care or financial services, the business motives of cooperatives are not profit, but service to members.” He discusses the cooperative model in a recent blog.

After talking to Steve, the concept of a nonprofit health co-op sounds a little more intriguing to me. Wouldn’t it be great to be a member of an organization focused solely on providing me and my family with excellent health care, rather than fighting through all the paperwork and bureaucracies that exist in health care today?

In my next post, I’ll take a closer look at how current health co-ops work.

Bob.jpgThe preceding is a guest post Bob Ottenhoff,  Chief Executive of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. With an entrepreneurial spirit, strong technology focus, and a quest to make an impact in the world, Bob has the ability to take an organization and lead it into strong performance, sustainability, and industry leadership.

Topics: Policy Nonprofit Health Services