Common Ground offers options for small business owners

I spent 22 years of my career in Marshfield, Wis., a great community built by hard working people. During my time as the chief administrator of Marshfield Clinic, I not only saw first-hand the impact that local, quality healthcare services can mean to a community, but I learned a thing or two about cooperatives (co-op).

In Marshfield, I bought my gas a Cenex, a co-op. Our family’s dairy products came from Land-O-Lakes, a thriving co-op in the region. And Ocean Spray Cranberry, located in Wisconsin, also has a co-op business model. Cooperatives bring many benefits to members. They’re local, they’re nonprofits, and benefits are for the members. It’s a model that has thrived across many industries, including the health insurance industry.

Group Health Cooperative from Madison has been providing quality, healthcare products to tens of thousands of residents for years across Dane County, proving co-ops do work.

As we’ve worked the past year to build the foundation for Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative, we’ve heard people tell us we won’t succeed. That co-ops simply can’t be successful in providing quality health insurance options. That we’re inexperienced. And many more negative comments.

Many of these rolled eyes have come from small business owners – men and women who have seen their healthcare costs rise 20 to 50 percent or more each year, year over year, without any new value to policy owners.

We’ve heard firsthand stories about how in many instances, business owners have had to decide to let employees go or maybe even not insure their own family because costs are so high they can’t offer the benefits to their employees and their own families. These decisions are ones we believe small business owners shouldn’t have to make.

We’re here to fix that.

Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative’s mission is to put people first, and as a small business owner, you share these same values. That’s what helps you sell products and ideas. Great people.

Our COOP team brings more than a century of experience in the healthcare industry, and we’ve partnered with two of the best networks in the region to offer health care services – Aurora Healthcare and Trilogy Networks to cover healthcare in 19 counties along the ‘east coast’ of Wisconsin.

Our people come to work each day with one mission in mind – to make our current healthcare struggles better and to help people.

Have we been disappointed by the rollout of Absolutely. Do we wish we have the dollars to launch multi-million advertising campaigns? Sure. But what makes us different is we’re not going to sit here and say “what if…” Rather, we’re mobilizing, taking the talents and people we have and trying to bring the message of what makes a co-op a great fit for small businesses to you – the business owners.

You’ll see us hosting seminars across 19 counties. You’ll see us at luncheons. And you’ll see our volunteers going door to door to share information about the co-op.

Why? Because as small business owners, you deserve better, and we believe we can help you. We hope you’ll give us a look.

Bob DeVita is chief executive officer of the Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative. Additional information is available at 855-494-2667 or Small business owners, nonprofit leaders and sole proprietors are invited to learn more by attending the Milwaukee Press Club’s next Newsmaker Luncheon, which will feature DeVita on Wednesday, Dec. 11. To register to attend, visit

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