Romer: Who is addressing local health care costs? | VailDaily.com

Romer: Who is addressing local health care costs?

Who is at the table to address health care costs in Eagle County? Addressing the high cost of health insurance is essential to the continued success and growth of our business community across industry sectors and we have the right stakeholders working together addressing this problem.

A “yes, and…” approach is needed to fundamentally address the issue of health insurance costs; providers, insurance companies, and the government all need to be part of the solution and niche programs need to build on each other to support community needs. Importantly, Vail Health and new CEO Will Cook recognize the need to be part of the solution. That organization is an active partner in developing collaborative solutions. 

Recently, a team of Summit County leaders launched the Peak Health Alliance (Peak). Peak is developing more cost-effective, sustainable health coverage options for individuals, insured employers, and self-insured employers in Summit County. Peak is implementing and maintaining health benefit solutions specific to the needs of Summit County. Great for Summit County, but what about us here in Eagle County?

Good news. We are actively engaged in research, data analysis, and development of our own local effort in Eagle County with the support and leadership from Vail Health and other stakeholders. This will build on the state efforts (including reinsurance) led in part by our local state lawmakers, Rep. Dylan Roberts and Sen. Kerry Donovan. 

Sustainable relief of the high cost of health care in Eagle County will occur due to collaboration, and by changing the way that individuals and employers negotiate, purchase and manage health insurance. Our intent — much like Peak in Summit County — is to develop a plan that works for both individuals and businesses in Eagle County. Providers, insurance companies, the business community, and others are working together to address the issue; collaboration will ultimately lead to savings for the consumer. 

Together we can and will build a cost-effective, sustainable health coverage options for individuals, insured employers, and self-insured employers in Eagle County. Any long-term sustainable solution to healthcare and health insurance costs must: 

  • Create more stability in insurance premiums, now and in the future.
  • Provide broader access to health insurance and coverage options within the community. 
  • Work to provide a community-wide wellness mindset and culture.
  • Provide education about access to a broader range of choices to promote better health care decision making. 

The purchasing power of numerous self-insured groups, large companies, small employers, and individuals could be amalgamated and leveraged to negotiate rates materially lower than those now prevailing in the county. It is a local solution to a national problem, and we recognize we cannot wait for federal policy to solve it. 

Tackling big issues such as health care requires intentional, coordinated, and collaborative efforts. We are pleased that Vail Health is at the table and thank their leadership and new CEO for being at the table. Vail Valley Partnership, Vail Health, and other entities are committed to building a program to support our community, lower health care costs, and increase community wellness. This is not an easy fix; it is a process. The right partners and leaders are engaged in the effort and this will provide a meaningful benefit to our community. 

In turn, every dollar saved on health insurance premiums can be used to support the local economy and meet other community needs such as housing and childcare. The Partnership — and Vail Health — understand the importance of collaborating and building coalitions in order to get things done. By working together, we can build a better tomorrow.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com.