Guest commentary: The cost of health care and Peak Health Alliance
Yampa Valley Medical Center
The cost of health care is an ever-present topic across the country, in Colorado and here in Routt County.
At UCHealth and Yampa Valley Medical Center, we work tirelessly to improve lives. We put our patients at the forefront of every decision, and strive to care for every individual with integrity and excellence.
Caring for patients also means advocating for access to affordable health insurance and a variety of insurance plans and payers from which to choose, something UCHealth and YVMC are committed to. We’ve worked to help bring additional health insurance providers and plans to Routt County, have lowered prices in a number of areas and currently offer some of the lowest costs among hospitals in Colorado’s mountain communities.
In recent years, the addition of urgent care and an ambulatory surgery center in Steamboat Springs have brought more affordable care options to our patients.
Importantly, we believe it is essential that residents of Routt County and our patients have access to a full range of services from primary care to specialists. UCHealth and YVMC have developed a clinically integrated network here to help bring providers together, to coordinate care and to improve outcomes while lowering costs.
We believe a strong network of insurance options is important.
UCHealth and YVMC value our existing relationships with payers, and we are currently in talks with other potential health insurance companies who may be able to offer competitive rates in Routt County.
UCHealth’s TPA, or third party administrator, allows medium and large employers to access discounts on care and provide health insurance directly to their employees.
UCHealth and YVMC have had a number of discussions with Peak Health Alliance over the past six months. Last week, we met with the Routt County Peak Health Alliance Steering Committee and again with Peak, and now, we shared a rate proposal that includes double-digit discounts.
These reductions are similar to the considerable discounts we have offered to health insurance companies recently as we have worked to reduce premiums. Though discussions continue, much work is still needed before Peak and an insurance company might be able to offer a plan.
But there are other efforts underway that may help control the cost of health care. Health insurance companies and providers are also focused on implementing the Colorado Option, which was passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor last year.
The new law requires providers and payers to work together to offer a plan with reduced premiums beginning Jan. 1, 2023. Premiums would be reduced further in future years. All of this work is happening under tight deadlines; the Department of Insurance requires health insurance companies to file within the next few weeks to offer plans on Jan. 1.
Ultimately, residents and employers in our county have multiple options today, with more in the works, that build upon initiatives in recent years to reduce health care prices and insurance premiums.
As we continue working toward these goals, we must not reduce the quality of the care patients receive or remove critical patient services. Providers in our community must be able to cover expenses, maintenance, enhancement to equipment and technology, and offer market-competitive salaries. Specialties and services that are important to our community, like YVMC’s special care nursery, cannot be sacrificed.
The health of our patients and the residents of Routt County remain the focus of YVMC and UCHealth. We will work diligently to provide a high quality health care experience close to home, while continuing to advance multiple initiatives with the goal of making health care more accessible for all.
Soniya Fidler is the president of the Yampa Valley Medical Center.
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