The Peak Health Alliance Success Story

by | Oct 30, 2023

Before Peak Health Alliance came into existence, rural Coloradans, especially in the central mountain counties, faced some of the country’s highest premiums and healthcare costs.

Since then, through the combined efforts of local leaders, the broader public, and other stakeholder collaboration, we have been able to offer more affordable health insurance in nine Colorado counties.

The critical component of Peak’s success is collaboration. We recognize that having all the right voices at the table is essential to finding solutions that work.

In 2017, a small working group began to investigate Summit County’s dubious distinction – known as the “Summit Paradox” – after a news article confirmed Summit County’s extraordinarily high healthcare costs and insurance premiums despite the county’s incredibly healthy population. Meetings were held, and data was analyzed in an exhaustive effort to understand what was driving this phenomenon.

Sponsored and financially supported by The Summit Foundation (Jeanne Bistranin – Executive Director, Mark Spiers  – Board President), a myriad of institutions and community leaders came together. They included:

  • The Family Intercultural Resource Center (Tamar Pogue – Executive Director, Don Dankner – Board President)
  • Summit County Government (Dan Gibbs – County Commissioner, Sarah Vaine Assistant County Manager for Health, Safety, and Human Services)
  • Summit County Care Clinic (Helen Royal – CEO)
  • The leadership of St. Anthony’s Medical Center (Lee Boyles – current CEO, Paul Chodkowski – previous CEO, and Sam Weller – Director of Strategy and Ambulatory Development)
  • The Colorado Division of Insurance (Michael Conway – Insurance Commissioner). 

These collaborative talks resulted in the creation of Peak Health Alliance, a nonprofit purchasing collaborative that works with local hospital and physician group leaders to establish a reduced fee schedule for individuals, small businesses, and self-insured entities.

By engaging local businesses, healthcare providers, and community members, Peak has been able to create a system that prioritizes the needs of the community and simultaneously supports local clinical professionals to ensure healthcare can be delivered to our neighbors at a reasonable cost.

Community leadership, in fact, is essential to Peak’s success. The power of the model lies in the community’s voice. We have worked to build a network of local leaders who are committed to improving healthcare in their communities.

When it comes to the discussion about health insurance rates, employers and individuals have previously been given no role except to open the envelope (or email) announcing the next round of price increases.

Peak changed that. By providing leaders with the resources and support they need, Peak has been able to create a grassroots movement that is creating real health insurance savings for people across the nine counties we serve.

For proof, simply compare the health insurance rates just released by the Colorado Division of Insurance. Peak and its not-for-profit partner Elevate Health Plans by Denver Health Medical Plan will offer the most budget-friendly Colorado Option health insurance plans in the nine counties we serve in 2024.

The rates for health plans offered through the Peak-Elevate partnership will be between 5-35% less than other plans offered in Archuleta, Park, Dolores, Grand, Lake, La Plata, Montezuma, San Juan, and Summit counties. This means each consumer could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in savings over the coming year.

In the first three years of existence, Peak Heath Alliance saved more than 8000 members  $16.1 Million in insurance premium savings.  That is money that stayed in the local community assisting other economic development efforts.

Peak Health Alliance is an excellent example of how collaboration involving an array of stakeholders, community leadership, and the engagement of the general public can create positive change to improve individual physical and mental health and improve the economic health of the communities we serve. Working together, we have created a healthcare system that is accessible, affordable, and effective for everyone.