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State approves insurance-buying cooperatives

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The state Division of Insurance this morning said it has certified two organizations as its first group purchasing cooperatives, in an effort to give small businesses and individuals more options for saving on health insurance by banding together to buy coverage.

Certified as group purchasing cooperatives, effective Jan. 1, were the Retailers Association of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Association of Chambers of Commerce Executives. The cooperatives will ask Massachusetts health insurers to develop products designed for their members, with the goal of offering products this spring or summer.

Insurance regulators are currently reviewing the applications of other groups to become cooperatives and may approve more in the next few months. As many as six certified group purchasing cooperatives can take on up to 85,000 small group members under a law signed by Governor Deval Patrick in August 2010.

Robert Weisman can be reached at weisman@globe.com.
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