Opinion | Peak Health Alliance: Our role is to do right by our members
Peak Health Alliance chair
At Peak Health Alliance, this new year marks the end of our third year of health insurance enrollment in Summit County. As the organization’s board chair, it is also a great time to reflect for a moment on the organization’s start, how it has changed the landscape in health insurance and what lies ahead. It’s an even better time to share it with you, the community where we got our start.
It wasn’t too long ago that Summit County was known as the most expensive county in the nation to buy health insurance. It was a dubious distinction that defied logic for a county usually found on top of the list of the nation’s healthiest.
But crisis being the mother of invention, this statistic spurred members of The Summit Foundation’s board to get to work and find some relief for our community. So we started a small working group to see what could be done.
It felt Herculean at the time, and there were many days we felt helpless to solve something locally. In fact, we were told as much by nearly everyone from industry to government that we were dreaming — big changes simply couldn’t be done at the local level.
Our small group of locals persisted. And we didn’t know at the time that, with a little help from local and state elected officials and friends in the industry, we were about to build something truly unique not just in Colorado, but the country.
Today, Peak Health Alliance serves nearly 9,000 members in eight counties, and we estimate that we’ve saved communities $10 million in premiums. We’re proud to have received recognition and support from national organizations like Arnold Ventures and this year a substantial grant from the Colorado Health Foundation to further advance our efforts in even more communities.
In sum, the reflection here is a source of great pride for our team and those of us who believe change is possible. We created an innovative, first-of-its-kind health insurance purchasing cooperative that has yet to be successfully duplicated. That’s a feather in the cap for all of Summit County.
Looking forward, it’s true we’ve got some fixing to do: One is pushing harder on our carrier to get better at serving our members and providers, as the tough position in the middle isn’t always pretty.
Truth is we knew going in that a new model wouldn’t be without its challenges, and it’s our role to do right by our members — even as we grow. But looking past the inevitable growing pains in a complex and often confusing industry, our mission to improve health care options for communities is delivering.
A fellow Peak board member recently described it best: “Everyone in the health care industry has someone looking out for and protecting their interests — be it Big Pharma, insurance carriers or hospitals. Finally, someone is actually looking out for the people who use health care.”
That’s you, our members. Here’s to a happy and healthy new year.
Don Dankner serves as chair of the Peak Health Alliance Board of Directors. A longtime community member, Dankner also is co-founder of the Mountain Scholars program at Colorado Mountain College for first-generation college students and is a former member and president of the board at the Family & Intercultural Resource Center. He lives in Breckenridge with his wife, Susan Propper.
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