Health insurance options to expand in 2020 as part of local and statewide efforts to reduce health care costs |

UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center expands partnership with Anthem to bring new program to Routt County

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center is expanding its partnership with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield with the goal of reducing costs for patients, interim hospital President Soniya Fidler said.

Once approved by the Colorado Division of Insurance, Anthem will offer its Pathways HMO to employers and individuals in Routt County beginning Jan. 1.

“Anthem Pathways includes the local physician network in Steamboat Springs, allowing patients to continue to see their trusted, local providers,” hospital interim Chief Executive Dr. Tom Downes was quoted as saying in a news release.

The Pathways product is currently available on the Front Range, so in the case services are not available in Routt County, the program can be used with Front Range providers, said Steve West, the hospital’s senior director of employer services, payor relations and network development.

Fidler said working with payers like Anthem lowers health care costs by increasing options for competitive premiums as well as providing more discounted services.

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“Over the last two years, we’ve lowered prices on MRIs, CTs, gastroenterology procedures and prices in our emergency department,” Fidler said in the release. “We are committed to looking at ways we can continue lowering the cost of health care, be it through innovation, access to additional specialists or improving the overall health of our community.”

The Colorado Legislature also is working to lower health care costs through a bill that would start the exploratory phase in creating a public health insurance option.

On April 22, the bipartisan bill sponsored by state Reps. Dylan Roberts and Marc Catlin passed in the House after concurring with Senate amendments. It is now headed to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ desk.

“Upon signature of the governor, Colorado will become the first state in the nation to ever set in place a process for offering a public health insurance option,” according to a news release from Roberts.

Once signed by Polis, the bill “will start developing a publicly supported health insurance option that leverages the efficiencies of our current state
infrastructure and will be available for purchase by Coloradans as soon as
the fall of 2020.”

The bill is part of a larger effort underway by the state Legislature to find innovative ways to lower the cost of health care.

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.

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