Local coalition gains traction in improving affordable health insurance in Eagle County

Ali Longwell | Vail Daily

The Mountain Healthcare Coalition is convening stakeholders to create a better health insurance model for all

For the last several years, the Mountain Healthcare Coalition — convening community partners including Vail Valley Partnership, Vail Health, employers and brokers — has been working to lower Eagle County’s health insurance costs. 

During a presentation on the coalition’s efforts and progress to the Vail Town Council on Tuesday, April 18, Krista Miller, the town of Vail’s director of human resources said the coalition was born out of community conversations around a decade ago but has grown exponentially in recent years. Currently, while the coalition is its own nonprofit entity, it is run by the Vail Valley Partnership.

Its primary target, Miller said, is to find a way to “partner with partners across the state, including our providers here locally, to really make something affordable that our small businesses, our individuals and potentially, eventually, even our larger, self-insured employers can tap into and really make this a feasible solution.”

What’s the problem?

In Eagle County, health care costs, premiums and access have long been a significant concern. Last week, Chris Romer, founder of the coalition and president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, shared some of the data that illustrates the depth of these challenges.

A 2021 Colorado Health Access Survey of the I-70 mountain corridor administered by Colorado Health Institute found that 18% of individuals did not seek care due to cost and 17% did not seek specialist care because of cost. The Center for Improving Value in Health Care reported that Eagle County’s cost of care (per person, per year) was around $8,496 based on 2020 data. This was reportedly around $2,500 higher than the statewide cost, about $2,700 higher than urban Colorado and around $1,200 higher than rural Colorado.