Info sessions tackle Peak Health Alliance coming to Grand
Grand County has begun taking steps to lower health care costs and get more residents enrolled in health care plans through its partnership with Peak Health Alliance.
At an informational session Wednesday in Granby, Grand County Commissioner Rich Cimino, Peak Health Alliance CEO Tamara Pogue and Grand County Rural Health Network Executive Director Jen Fanning spoke about how Peak could affect locals.
“We’re just hoping to add one additional option for people to consider in 2021 on top of everything else, not replacing anything or pushing anyone out,” Cimino said. “We just wanted an additional option for Grand County.”
The county partnered with Peak in 2019 to offer health insurance to its employees through the alliance in 2020 before it goes to the public next year in the individual and small group market places.
Cimino acknowledged that county employees experienced a rocky start to their new insurance, but emphasized the issue was with the county’s insurance administrator, United Medical Resources Inc., not Peak.
“There’s a couple different issues there, but nothing to do with Peak,” Cimino said. “Yes, the county workforce is not happy, and justifiably so, but it’s a UMR issue or a provider issue.”
Rather, partnering with Peak has done for Grand County is allow negotiations on hospital and doctor rates to occur between local providers and the county’s steering committee, which is made up of residents, business owners and nonprofit representatives.
Both Summit and Grand counties have the highest health insurance premiums in the country, Pogue noted, thanks to a geographic rating given to the counties by the state.
Since Peak Health Alliance established itself in Summit County, the nonprofit has managed to negotiate with Centura the lowest rates in Colorado and premiums have dropped by 20%, according to Pogue.
“We were able to incentivize (Centura) or enable them to lower their rates because we brought them more volume,” she said.
Grand County’s Peak Health Steering Committee will be responsible for negotiating with local providers, choosing the best insurance carrier and convening stakeholders, among other duties.
Interested in being a part of this group of residents, business owners and experts? Reach out to Jen Fanning at 970-725-3477 or email@example.com.
Grand County’s steering committee will begin negotiations this spring. From there, the rates will be put up for bid to insurance companies and the steering committee will make a recommendation as to which insurance company’s proposal is the most beneficial.
“What that allows us to do is hold the carriers accountable,” Pogue explained. “In our contract with Centura, everything has a set price and is transparent … and that lets us have continuing conversations with Centura about longer term goals.”
This may mean that Grand County will have more insurance provider options outside of Anthem, the only provider that’s served the county for the last several years. Ultimately, the goal is to get more people insured and cut down the county’s 17% uninsured rate.
Aside from driving down costs for consumers, another goal of the alliance is to support local hospitals and doctors, Pogue said. For example, the county employees’ 2020 plans include 70 providers, including Middle Park Health, Denver Health, Colorado Children’s Hospital and the Centura network.
“The goal is to build networks where you get your health care locally first and then leave when you need to leave and ensure all of that care is quality,” Pogue said.
Peak plans also allow people to access preventative care, such as regular physician visits and mental health care, before they have to pay their deductible. Any tax credits or subsidies that a consumer gets for their health insurance can be paired with Peak plans.
The Peak plans also won’t replace any plans currently available, but will instead offer another option.
Another informational session about Peak Health Alliance will be at noon on Feb. 6 at the Granby Library.
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Standing at 12,007 feet elevation overlooking Grand Lake, 11-year-old Brianna McCarthy and her 13-year-old brother, Mason, picked stones from the peak of Mt. Craig to add to the stack from previous summiters.