Garfield County has one health insurance provider and one hospital, causing residents to sometimes pay more than their mortgage for basic health insurance.
To help lower the costs, Garfield County’s Board of County Commissioners unanimously agreed at last week's meeting to partner with Peak Health Alliance, a non-profit that helps communities bargain lower health insurance costs.
Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said the county paid $25,000 through a supplemental budget for research to find exactly what the county’s medical needs are.
They will then decide early next year if they want to spend another $25,000 to start working with Peak Health Alliance to negotiate lower costs with local health care providers.
“I believe it’s going to go forward. I wouldn’t have committed the first $25,000 if I didn’t think we weren’t able to move forward with this,” Jankovsky said. “But we won’t know for sure until we get the information back.”
CEO of Peak Health Alliance, Tamara Drangtveit, said when they began working with Summit County at the end of 2018, they helped the county lower their health care premiums by nearly 20 percent.
She said the data will show what the biggest cost drivers are, or what county residents are paying the most for when it comes to medical are. Those drivers will then help decide how Peak Health Alliance and Garfield County should negotiate with local health care providers to lower costs.
“When Peak begins to work in a community or with a community, we always start with the data,” Drangtveit said. “Then that data will tell a story, then we will start to implement strategy based on what that story tells us.”
If Garfield County’s Board of County Commissioners decides to start negotiating after seeing the data, they will pay another $25,000 to Peak Health Alliance, possibly lowering rates by more than 10 percent.