Democrats celebrated the news Monday that Peak Health Alliance in Summit County expects insurance premium costs to drop by 29% to 47%.
Gov. Jared Polis made the announcement at a news conference, as saving people money on health insurance was a cornerstone of his campaign last year.
Because of the way insurers rate regions of the state, premiums in the mountains and other rural areas are financially back-breaking. A flurry of political efforts, including a package of Polis-backed legislation, passed this year.
The fruits of those labors prompted political back-patting Monday. Part of the savings comes from the reinsurance waiver sought by Polis and the legislature to break out high-risk insurance customers to reduce rates for others.
House Bill 1168 was sponsored by a bipartisan quartet of high country lawmakers: Reps. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, and Janice Rich, R-Grand Junction, with Sens. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale.
“The Peak Health Alliance is an exciting opportunity for the state to innovate on how to lower health care rates, and I couldn’t be more thrilled for this partnership with Summit County," Donovan said in a statement. "The potential for other communities to learn from and implement its success could be a game changer for making health care more affordable in Colorado.”
The alliance began with $150,000 in seed money from The Summit Foundation, a Breckenridge-based nonprofit that provides "leadership and resources to assist local working families, resolve critical community issues and preserve the quality of life we all enjoy in our beautiful mountains," according to its website.
Donovan also led the fight on Senate Bill 4 to allow more communities and groups to form insurance cooperatives to bargain for group rates.
Polis said a family of four could save about $14,000, and a 35-year-old could pay about $3,600 a year less in premiums.
“Now customers are banding together to solve a problem, and it’s a model we are expanding statewide to save people money on health care,” Polis said in a statement. "Peak Health is a great example of a community together to create real change."
He said he hopes to made it a statewide model "because supporting local innovative solutions that save people money on health care are a top priority for my administration.”
More such plans and rates across the state will be announced within the next month, the governor's office said, with projections released in July indicating an average savings of 18.2% over this year's premiums.
Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Eagle, a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 4 with McCluskie, called the Peak model a "game changer" for Colorado, "ensuring that more people have access to affordable, community-based health insurance ... and I expect this to start happening in every corner of Colorado soon.”
Said McCluskie: "The Peak Health Alliance is significantly reducing health insurance premiums for the working people of Summit County, and I hope we can be a model for what is possible statewide. I was proud to work alongside Sen. Donovan and Rep. Roberts on the legislation that helped make these dramatic reductions in health insurance premiums a reality.”