Community Health Plan a winner |

Community Health Plan a winner

For the past decade, health care providers in the Roaring Fork Valley have been working toward a highly worthy goal: creating an affordable health insurance program for small businesses and the self-employed.On June 19, they announced their successful achievement: the Roaring Fork Valley Community Health Plan.The collaborative breakthrough also involves the Glenwood Springs, Basalt and Aspen chambers of commerce, Valley View and Aspen Valley hospitals, many of the valley’s doctors and medical clinics, Van Gilder Insurance Corp. of Denver, and PacifiCare Life & Assurance Co., a 25-year-old insurance company.The following day, headlines spread the good news across the valley.Since then, telephones at participating insurance brokerages from Glenwood Springs to Aspen have been ringing incessantly. Small business owners and the self-employed, who have faced impossibly burdensome health care insurance premium rates, now have a chance at securing coverage. Policies will be available in August.The idea is to join the Roaring Fork Valley’s many small businesses and self-employed entrepreneurs into a large group of health insurance customers. They’ll have the buying clout of a large company, but still be able to individualize their health coverage.The new offering comes not a moment too soon. For years, many business owners have paid astronomical premiums. Some, particularly the self-employed, have gone without, hoping they suffer no major calamity or illness.Business owners who have insurance coverage are facing premium increases of as much as 40 percent this year. By switching to the Community Health Plan, those increases will be limited to about 10 percent.The Community Health Plan is not a discount program. It is a long-term option for the Valley’s working class, offering the kind of health insurance coverage that’s taken for granted by those who work for large employers.The partners in this not-for-profit venture deserve a hearty pat on the back for their work on this. They have taken a huge step toward making the Roaring Fork Valley a place where ordinary people can live and work.

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