WLM WLM Summer 2015 - Page 32

WLM | health A QUIET, Determined Journey By Caitlin Rooney Images courtesy of WINhealth A small, largely unknown not-for-profit health plan in the Southeast corner of the state, made a quick, sudden, and bold move onto the Wyoming health insurance scene as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rapidly turned from a vision into a reality. The unprecedented growth of the company left its leaders, board members, and employees hands-toknees, winded, as they sprinted to the finish line. In this case, the finish line was the opening of the Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the “exchange,” in 2013. But, the work is never done in this new era of health insurance where change is the only constant. Despite the arduous implementation of the ACA, the relentless spirt of the staff and the realization of untapped potential left them energized and ready for more. WINhealth got its start in 1996 under the name WINhealth Partners. The company was, and still is, licensed as a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), the only one domiciled in Wyoming. The company was born out of a joint venture between Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, a county-owned 277 bed general acute hospital located in Cheyenne WY, and Southeast Wyoming Preferred Physicians (SWPP), an Independent Practice Association (IPA) consisting of 32 approximately 180 physicians and other healthcare professionals in Laramie County, WY. The original purpose of WINhealth was twofold: • Keep people from leaving the state for their health care needs • Keep competing managed care companies from entering the region Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine | Summer 2015 While components of the initial purpose of WINhealth Partners live on today, the company has evolved on all fronts. As the Affordable Care Act began to unfold, WINhealth carefully watched and listened, contemplating their next move.