St. Anthony Summit Medical Center agrees to deal to reduce health care costs for residents
Summit County’s groundbreaking Peak Health Alliance health care collaborative has just made its first major step to becoming a reality. Peak Health and Centura Health, which owns St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, have successfully negotiated a contract to make Centura the primary health care provider for the Peak Health Alliance network when it goes live next year.
The negotiations have been ongoing for several months with different health care delivery providers, and the next step will be to get insurance companies to bid for the rates for the fee schedule Peak Health negotiated with Centura and secondary providers. Peak Health, when online, will represent individuals and employees of small and large employers in Summit.
“Centura Health demonstrated its commitment to addressing the high cost of health care in Summit County by offering greatly reduced prices and significant transparency for consumers to understand the cost of services,” Peak Health Alliance stated in a press release.
Securing a contract with Centura and St. Anthony Summit was considered critical to Peak Health’s viability, as the hospital is the largest medical provider in the county. Without its participation, Peak Health members would have been forced to go outside the county for many major health services, which could have limited county participation.
“St. Anthony Summit Medical Center and Centura Health have long been committed to the health and wellness of Summit County residents and visitors,” said Lee Boyles, president and CEO of St. Anthony Summit in a press release. “We share Peak Health Alliance’s objective of providing access to high-quality health care at lower prices, and we’re thrilled to be part of this innovative collaboration. While this is just the first step toward higher-quality and lower-cost care for our residents, it’s an incredibly important one.”
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Peak Health was formed out of an urgent need to deflate exorbitant health costs in the High Country. Summit County residents pay among the highest premiums in the country, with up to one in five residents uninsured. One of the drivers of the high premiums is inflated prices for certain services. For example, emergency room costs in Summit for privately insured residents were found to be up to 842 percent higher than what Medicare patients pay.
“We do know that the savings for Summit County that Centura agreed to will be significant,” FIRC executive director and Peak Health executive committee member Tamara Drangstveit said, adding she could not get into specifics of the fee schedule due to a non-disclosure agreement with Centura. “People are going to have to wait to see the savings when they buy their plans; the proof will be in the premiums.”
Drangstveit added that aside from St. Anthony, Peak Health members would be able to access Centura’s network across the state, including services in the Front Range not available at St. Anthony. Additionally, Peak Health is looking to contract with Children’s Hospital and other providers for certain specialized services, including mental health.
The Summit Foundation, which provided the initial investment into Peak Health for the actuarial study on health costs in Summit, said that Peak’s strategy to investigate where health care dollars were spent was the critical first step in securing the contract.
“The Summit Foundation’s early investment in Peak and its ability to use data and analytics to change the dynamics of health purchasing has proven invaluable to our longstanding effort to reduce health care costs in Summit County,” said Summit Foundation board of trustees president and Peak Health executive committee member Mark Spiers.
The Peak Health Alliance was designed to give consumers the power to band together and create a single, large negotiating bloc to directly negotiate costs with insurers and providers. The initiative, which has had the blessing and support of state division commissioner Michael Conway, is the first-of-its-kind in Colorado and is being observed closely to see if it can actually work as part of a long-term health cost reduction strategy for communities.
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