Consumer Cooperatives and Social Enterprise in Health Care
August 15, 2013 Editor 0
This is a repost from one of our group members, Vern Hughes
As policy makers around the world search for better models of health care, consumer cooperatives in health are flourishing and new social enterprise models are emerging. Globally, there are many locally-generated membership-based health organizations that link consumer ownership and empowerment with holistic, preventative, and integrated health care.
In Quebec, there are 20 health cooperatives running primary care centres. In Australia, there are 9 cooperative hospitals and 58 cooperative pharmacies owned by consumers, and 24 mutual health insurers. In Poland, Spain and Brazil there are many worker cooperatives of health practitioners running primary care and day surgery services. The Japanese Health Cooperative has developed networks of thousands of mutual support health groups (HAN groups) in neighbourhoods across the country.
Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, USA is a cooperative of 800,000 consumers which runs two large hospitals, a network of primary care clinics and pharmacies, and a consumer-governed health insurance fund. It has consumer-governed structures at all levels of the cooperative, with a Board made up entirely of consumers.
Health cooperatives like this have evolved in many countries, with no template, and no coordinated development. As an alternative to both provider-owned and state-owned health care, the consumer cooperative model in health care has great potential for development.
An International Working Group to coordinate development of health cooperatives and social enterprises internationally has been created, and is seeking expressions of interest from consumers, practitioners, health innovators and funders in participating in its agenda.
We would like to hear from people with interests in:
chronic illness management
local hospital and acute care services
consumer-governed electronic health records
peer-support models for good health
self-directed services and individual budgets
health insurance funds and financing
We aim to develop several models of consumer-based enterprise in health care that can be developed around the world, with supportive international networks and collaborating agencies.
In the next 20 years, consumer cooperatives and social enterprise should be able to become as prominent in global health care as provider-owned and state-owned models.
Register your interest in participating in development and extension of the consumer cooperative and social enterprise models here: http://
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