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United Agricultural Benefit Trust spotlighted as model for healthcare cooperatives

Los Angeles Times, August 6, 2009

As Congress examines ways to overhaul the nation's healthcare system, the United Agricultural Benefit Trust has found itself in the national spotlight as a model for a proposed co-op option consumers could consider along with private insurers. The Trust works like a commercial insurer, negotiating rates with a network of doctors and hospitals, but it is owned by its members. Many of them say co-ops offer better service and are cheaper because they don't have to turn a profit. But critics say co-ops, which are not as tightly regulated as other insurance providers, are susceptible to insolvency and would not work on a large scale.