CoOportunity Health, a Des Moines-based nonprofit established to offer health insurance coverage to Iowans and Nebraskans, has received state approval to operate in Iowa, the organization announced today.

CoOportunity, which was funded last year with a $112 million low-interest federal loan, was granted a certificate of authority by the Iowa Insurance Division. 

CoOportunity aims to provide additional competition in the Iowa and Nebraska health care markets through the new federal-state partnership insurance exchange set to begin operating this fall.

"We're pleased to have completed the state insurance licensing process in Iowa," said David Lyons, CEO of CoOportunity, in a release. "This is an important accomplishment in our business plan, and keeps us on track toward introducing our innovative health insurance solutions to Iowa and Nebraska individuals and businesses later this year. "

The nonprofit said it expects to announce next week that it has received approval to operate in Nebraska as well.

Also today, Group Benefits Ltd., an Urbandale-based insurance agency, announced it was awarded one of three general agency contracts for CoOportunity. The other two general agencies that will contract with independent agents for the cooperative are KHI Financial Solutions, based in Fort Dodge, and Mutual Med, which is based in Davenport. CoOportunity will also with 10 other agencies, among them Bearence Management Group, Frank Berlin & Associates and Holmes Murphy & Associates. 

The cooperative's insurance portfolio will include health plans for individuals and families, small employer groups of up to 50 employees, and large fully insured or self-funded employers with more than 51 workers.

Initially named Midwest Members Health, CoOportunity Health was one of the first nonprofit Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OPs) to be approved by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid in February 2012. To date, 24 CO-OPs have been approved in 24 states.