Aiming to offer plans in 2023, Routt County to approve deal with Peak Health Alliance |

Aiming to offer plans in 2023, Routt County to approve deal with Peak Health Alliance

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1:50 p.m. Monday.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners are expected to enter into an agreement with Peak Health Alliance on Tuesday, starting phase one of a process that hopes to offer health insurance plans locally in 2023.

The professional services agreement between the county and Peak Health is part of the consent agenda Tuesday, which is where commissioners can vote to approve several items at once that are typically noncontroversial.

After meeting with commissioners in September, representatives from Peak Health Alliance have been working to gauge community support, which CEO Claire Brockbank has said is critical for Peak Health to enter a market.

In October, Peak Health made its pitch to a variety of local stakeholders, such as business leaders, human resources directors and local health care professionals. The county has set a steering committee to help guide Peak’s work, and the committee met for the first time last week, Routt County Commissioner Beth Melton said.

Since then, the group is scheduled to make presentations about Peak Health to local stakeholders, including the Steamboat Springs Chamber Board, local Rotary Clubs and the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors.

Part of the process asks large employers to sign a letter of intent saying they will consider purchasing Peak Health Alliance plans if they’re available locally. Melton said the county would sign one of these letters, which is nonbinding.

“It basically says, ‘If Peak brings forward an option, we will look at it and consider it for our insurance,’” Melton said. “The point is to have this group of people that is large enough to move into negotiations.”

In addition to the steering committee, Melton said they are working to put together a provider advisory group that would include representatives from UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, Northwest Colorado Health and other local providers.

Peak Health Alliance is a nonprofit, member-owned, health care-purchasing cooperative that started in Summit County in 2018. It has reduced premiums in the seven Colorado counties it operates, some by as much as 38%, according to Brockbank.

In Grand County, where Peak began offering plans earlier this year, some options on the individual market saw rate reductions of nearly $200.

The group hopes to build enough community support and use that negotiation power and data they say exposes inefficiencies in the health care system to negotiate for lower costs.

The agreement lays out two phases. Phase one includes a deep analysis of data from the All Payer Claims Database and Medicare cost reports to get a better understanding of the current pricing and what is influencing costs.

The second phase will happen only if commissioners decide to proceed with it.

Phase two is focused on strategies to implement Peak’s model locally and offer plans on the individual, insured group and self-funded insurance markets.

The deal includes $25,000 for phase one paid to Peak Health, as well as up to $10,000 for actuarial analysis. The terms of the agreement are a standard that Peak charges each community it works with, and the deal to move forward was not negotiated between the county and Peak.

If commissioners proceed to phase two, Peak Health will be paid $25,000 more, and another $5,000 can be spent for additional analysis. Additionally, the county will pay about $19,500 for the data sets needed.

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