Garfield County hosts Peak Health insurance presentations Thursday |

Garfield County hosts Peak Health insurance presentations Thursday

Peak Health Alliance CEO Tamara Pogue-Drangstveit speaks at the Keystone Lodge last September during an event officially launching Peak Health in Summit County.
Liz Copan / | Summit Daily News

peak health alliance presentations

Thursday, Jan. 16

Glenwood Springs: 9:30-11:30 a.m., Garfield County Administration Building, 108 Eighth St.

Rifle: 1-3 p.m., first-floor meeting room at the County Administration Building, 195 West 14th Ave.

A Colorado nonprofit cooperative that negotiates lower health care insurance premiums comes to Garfield County this week to discuss a new regional effort to explore better rate options for citizens and businesses.

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

Representatives from Peak Health have been invited for two presentations Thursday — at 9:30 a.m. at the Garfield County Administration Building in Glenwood Springs, 108 Eighth St., and again at 1 p.m. at the Rifle County Administration Building, 195 W. 14th Ave., Building D.

The 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,” according to a county press release.

Peak Health made a presentation in November to the county commissioners, who have been looking into solutions to 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 to help lower health insurance premiums for individuals and small and large groups.

“Health insurance across the United States, and in western Colorado in particular, is a very big issue,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said in the release. “It’s very expensive, and we were very pleased when (state) 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 higher.

Peak Health CEO Tamara Pogue Drangstveit told the commissioners during the November presentation that Summit County saw the percentage of working-class families’ budgets increase from 10% to 40% 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,” Pogue Drangstveit said. “Many of them were moving away and small businesses were closing because they couldn’t find employees that they needed.”

In Summit County, Peak Health has negotiated rates of care to between 250% and 300% of Medicare costs, helping insurance carriers to lower premiums by 20%.

All the prices are set, so customers know exactly what they will be paying for care, she explained.

“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 said. “One business with about 95 employees, told us that it anticipates saving 25% off its annual health insurance premiums.”

Added Jankovsky, “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.”

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