Chaffee County Community Foundation, in partnership with Peak Health Alliance, will share the results of a study of the drivers of health care costs for Chaffee County employers during an Employer Health Care Cost Forum from 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday at the Salida Rotary Scout Hut, 210 E. Sackett Ave.

Tamara Pogue, executive director of Peak Health Alliance, will give a presentation about the alliance’s success in lowering premiums for Summit County residents. Pogue will then take comments from local employers on how health care costs are affecting their businesses.

The end goal is to produce sturdier and more affordable health insurance plans for 2021, Pogue said.

The forum is free and refreshments will be provided.

Previous counties the organization has visited include Grand, Lake and Garfield counties.

Peak Health Alliance is a Summit County-based nonprofit whose mission is to find ways to provide more affordable, high-quality health insurance coverage. It emphasizes data and analytics as well as community support to negotiate directly with providers. The alliance tries to create a competitive bidding process with insurance companies.

According to the Peak Health Alliance website, in a typical setting, hospitals and providers set prices. Insurance companies then negotiate the best deal. Those costs are then passed down to consumers. Employers and consumers only have control over what premium and deductibles they want to pay.

The nonprofit alters the insurance structure by negotiating directly with providers and hospitals for lower and clearer prices. It uses community unification and potential consumers as leverage. Insurance companies will then have to compete for the opportunity to cover all Peak Health Alliance members by giving out the best deal they are willing to offer.

The organization requires insurers to propose premiums based on a defined set of benefit designs and its lower negotiated provider prices.

David Rossi, chief marketing officer for Peak Health Alliance, said the organization began as an offshoot of The Summit Foundation in January 2019. It was developed out of the revelation that insurance rating District 9, which includes Summit County, had the highest average costs for health services in the nation. Much of this can be attributed to tourists needing medical attention for injuries at ski resorts.

Chaffee County is in District 8. Rossi said it faces similar issues although the districts are not comparable because Salida’s private hospital is able to benchmark costs against Medicare reimbursements.

To benefit from the negotiation, businesses will have to become members of Peak Health Alliance. Every individual member will pay a monthly membership fee of $6 that will show up as a part of their premium. Employees interested in signing up for the alliance should choose the Peak Health Alliance plan when going through open enrollment through an employer.

Rossi said he is confident in Peak Health Alliance’s work.

“We’re really working hard to bring out innovative ways to bring down health insurance,” Rossi said. “We’re better off doing this as a community.”

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