Letter: It’s not rocket science; it’s insurance
On Tuesday, Peak Health Alliance, a nonprofit, locally-led insurance purchasing alliance, gave a presentation to the Routt County commissioners. We attended the meeting (remotely), and this is what we learned:
• Peak is not an insurance company; it is a company that negotiates health care plans for individuals (like us), groups (like schools) and self-insured businesses.
• All Peak Alliance Colorado counties saw significant reductions in health insurance costs. From 2020 to 2021, Summit County’s prices were reduced by 29%; other counties have similar reductions. Current participating counties include La Plata, Dolores, Lake, Grand, Montezuma and San Juan.
• In its research, Peak ascertained that, in Grand County, only eight cents out of every health care dollar goes to community health care. Last year, on the Peak program, Grand County saved $1.3 million on health care. The attending Grand County commissioner attributed $1 million savings to Peak (the $300,000 is attributed to COVID-19).
• Summit County’s Peak relationship has brought significant change to its mental health patients. Outpatient care now is unlimited with no co-pay and no deductible.
• Peak Health Alliance was underwritten through the Summit Foundation and local government organizations. Its ongoing operations are primarily funded by membership fees ($6 per individual), paid through the monthly premiums of Peak Health Alliance plans.
The above is merely a small sharing of data points; there are more but not enough space in this format to share them all.
Next year, Anthem’s rates (Routt County’s only insurance company) are expected to increase by double digits. A preliminary estimate indicates that, for a 40-year-old nonsmoking male, next year’s premium options could look like this: Rocky Mountain Health Plans, $398 per month; Anthem, $363 per month; Peak, $266 per month.
We also learned that UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center would be an important partner in making this work, and we are optimistic that they will agree to participate in negotiations in fulfillment of their mission to serve Routt County as a community hospital.
It’s not rocket science; it’s insurance. Thus, we thank our county commissioners for considering Peak Health Alliance to do a thorough analysis to help Routt County citizens. It would be an upfront cost of $25,000 plus $8,000 to $10,000 for an actuarial analysis. This would be money well spent to create a plan to help individuals, businesses, nonprofits and all people who need affordable and accessible health insurance.
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Rather than protest at a rally to raise awareness of an alleged problem, Steamboat Springs High School students should file a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.