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Peak Health to bring cheaper, high quality insurance to Grand

Tamara Pogue, CEO of Peak Health Alliance, speaks at a September health care event in Keystone. Peak Health Alliance is offering plans in Grand County for the first time this year.
Summit Daily file photo

Come Nov. 1, Grand County residents looking to purchase health care through Colorado’s individual marketplace will have an option with cheaper premiums and local providers thanks to Peak Health Alliance.

Peak Health Alliance is a nonprofit health insurance purchasing cooperative that partnered with Grand County, along with Summit, Lake, La Plata, Montezuma, San Juan and Dolores counties, to negotiate with local providers for cheaper health insurance.

This is the first year Peak Health is offering plans in Grand County through the individual marketplace and Executive Director Tamara Pogue said premiums on average will be down 30% for Grand County plans.

The rates will be finalized by the state’s division of insurance within the next few weeks.

“In addition to lower rates, we’re also really excited that the plans folks will be able to buy have really high quality benefits, including $0 or low dollar copay mental health visits, primary care will have lower deductibles than folks have seen in the past,” Pogue said. “Consumers will be able to spend less overall for higher quality care and good access.”

In recent years, Grand County has only had one health insurance provider, which was Anthem. Peak will have individual insurance plans, as well as individual coverage reimbursement arrangements (ICHRAs) and level funded plans for businesses.

The plans are provided by Bright Health and will be accepted by all of the health care providers in Grand County, including Middle Park Health and Denver Health. 

“Residents of our county will now have more options for health insurance and thus access to quality health care,” said MPH CEO Jason Cleckler. “This step forward for our county demonstrates the commitment Middle Park Health has made to do our part to address the affordability of health care in our region.”

Grand County Commissioner Rich Cimino said one of the goals of bringing Peak Health to the county, aside from lowering costs, is to insure more county residents.

In 2019, around 17% of Grand County was uninsured, according to the Rural Health Network. 

“In 2021, hopefully we’ll get it down and I’d like to see the uninsured rate below 10% for Grand County,” Cimino said. “That’s my goal right now. I don’t know that we’ll get there in 2021, but hopefully we move that direction.”

Across all of the counties, Peak is hoping that 15,000-20,000 people will get insurance through their plans, with about 2,000 of those being in Grand County.

“The less expensive we can make health insurance, the easier it is for folks to buy that insurance, which means fewer folks go uninsured, which also contributes to lower costs in the system,” Pogue said.

In the future, Peak Health plans to continue negotiating in the different aspects of the health care market, such as trying to lower the cost of prescriptions.

“We want to focus on expanding access to mental and behavioral health and we continue to be very interested in the pharmaceutical market,” Pogue said. 

Cimino was also recently appointed to the state’s Health Insurance Affordability Enterprise Board, which plans to levy a health insurance affordability fee on Colorado insurance carriers and a special assessment on hospitals to fund measures that will hopefully further reduce costs for individual health coverage plans.


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