County hosting health insurance presentations

Summit County's Peak Health Alliance sessions in Glenwood and Rifle on Jan. 16

Jan. 7, 2020

Summit County’s Peak Health Alliance sessions in Glenwood and Rifle Jan. 16

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – A Colorado nonprofit that negotiates lower healthcare insurance
premiums is holding meetings in Garfield County, as part of a regional effort to explore better
rate options for citizens and businesses. Individuals and groups are invited to learn more about
a new county-supported opportunity to lower health insurance premiums.

Peak Health Alliance is offering presentations Thursday, Jan. 16, at the Garfield County
Administration Building, 108 8th Street, Glenwood Springs, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., and then in
the first-floor meeting room at the Garfield County Administration Building in Rifle, 195 West 14th
Ave., Building D, from 1 to 3 p.m.

These meetings are open to the public, and are designed to inform individuals, businesses and
health care providers about the Peak Health program, and its potential to help lower insurance
premiums in Garfield County.

The cooperative, which was founded in Summit County, purchases health insurance through
carriers that have demonstrated competitive rates and comprehensive plans. It is licensed
through the state but is not a part of the state government. Peak Health helps members to make
price-conscious decisions without sacrificing quality of care.

Peak Health made a presentation in November before the Board of County Commissioners,
which has long been looking into solutions for the high cost of health insurance in Garfield
County. The entire Western Slope, except for Mesa County, is in geographic rating area nine,
which sees the most expensive health care insurance premiums in the country.

Peak Health Alliance provides a model that will further lower health insurance premiums for
individuals and small and large groups. Instead of waiting for relief from the state or federal
government, this provides a local solution to address health care and health insurance costs.

“Health insurance across the United States, and in western Colorado in particular, is a very big
issue,” said Commissioner Tom Jankovsky. “It’s very expensive, and we were very pleased
when Sen. Bob Rankin got the reinsurance bill passed. That bill brought down the cost of
insurance for individual policies by close to 30 percent, but we need to do more.”

The Reinsurance Program, House Bill 19-1168, provides reinsurance payments to health
insurance providers in the state’s Connect for Health insurance marketplace to help cover more
expensive claims, thus lowering costs in mountain communities, where premiums are much

In November, the BOCC unanimously approved a $50,000 grant from the Department of Human
Services budget to bring Peak Health’s services to Garfield County.

Tamara Pogue Drangstveit, CEO of Peak Health, told the commissioners that Summit County
saw the percentage of working-class families’ budgets increase from 10 to 40 percent for health
care costs.

“Much like here, families were spending $2,500 a month more than their mortgages and child
care costs on health insurance,” she said. “Many of them were moving away and small
businesses were closing because they couldn’t find employees that they needed.

“What that said to us is that there was an opportunity to rebalance our system to work with the
hospitals and insurance carriers to try and ultimately create some relief for consumers,”

Drangstveit added. “We’ve worked very hard to make sure that the insurance that we offer
provides coverage that actually helps people.”

In Summit County, Peak Health has negotiated rates of care to between 250 and 300 percent of
Medicare costs, helping insurance carriers to lower premiums by 20 percent. All the prices are
set, so customers know exactly what they will be paying for care.

“I’ve heard from about 10 customers that their savings are going to be about $800 to $1,400 a
month on their premiums for a family of four,” Drangstveit told the commissioners. “One
business with about 95 employees, told us that it anticipates saving 25 percent off its annual
health insurance premiums.”

“The Peak Health Alliance model will further lower health insurance premiums for individuals as
well as small and large groups, helping all of Garfield County,” Jankovsky added.

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Media contact
Renelle Lott
Chief Communications Officer
Garfield County
108 8th Street, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
970.945.1377, ext. 1453
970.366.2275 cell