Peak Health Alliance expands to six additional Colorado counties, including Grand
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the number of potential enrollees in Peak Health’s cooperative.
KEYSTONE — The Peak Health Alliance, the first nonprofit community health insurance purchasing cooperative in Colorado, announced it has expanded from Summit County to six other Colorado counties, including Archuleta, Dolores, Grand, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan.
Peak Health Alliance CEO Tamara Pogue-Drangstveit said Peak Health will provide technical support and expertise to independent affiliates forming in Grand and the five other counties. With Peak Health’s guidance, those affiliates will negotiate their own rates with their local health providers and choose their own insurance carriers, providing plans customized to their individual communities.
With the expansion to these other counties, the number of potential enrollees in Peak Health’s cooperative will grow by 20,000 customers, broadening the number of Colorado residents who can take advantage of consumer-negotiated pricing on health insurance coverage for the first time.
Grand County commissioners recently approved the partnership, and Grand County government employees will be able to choose Peak Health Alliance plans beginning Jan. 1, 2020. Plans will be offered to Grand County businesses and individuals in 2021.
The southwest Colorado counties of Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan will see Peak Health plans go live for government employees in 2021, with individuals and businesses starting up in 2022 at the latest. They will operate under the umbrella of Southwest Health Alliance, a collaborative effort among those five southwestern counties.
“Peak’s model of locally driven strategies appealed to us because it allows us to leverage the work they’ve done while creating a local approach to affordable health care,” said Monique DiGiorgio, managing director of Durango nonprofit Local First and a member of the steering committee for Southwest Health Alliance.
Pogue-Drangstveit said the expansion helps fulfill Peak’s main goal, which is to empower communities and consumers with a seat at the negotiating table with providers and insurance carriers.
The expansion to the six other counties also could help drive down costs in Summit indirectly, as they are also part of Region 9, the geographical region for health insurance markets for almost all Western Slope counties with the exception of Mesa. If costs go down in the other counties, costs for Summit County consumers could also go down.
“Good health care is local, as are good systems and providers,” Pogue-Drangstveit said. “It makes sense for us to offer a model where communities can take care of themselves. But the overall increase in lives in Peak Health Alliance increases the impact of our strategy to lower premiums for all members.”
Pogue-Drangstveit also addressed questions raised by some news outlets about whether the consumer collaborative model could work outside of Summit County. She insisted the model is a universal one that can be successfully replicated.
“We are excited to prove that the Peak Health model can work in other communities and empower people to have more of a say in how much they pay for health care,” Pogue-Drangstveit said.
Colorado Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway, who helped with the formation of Peak Health Alliance by encouraging the collaborative model and providing advice, said he welcomed the expansion.
“The success of the Peak Health Alliance has proven that bringing communities together can lower health care costs for Colorado consumers,” Conway said.
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