PVHS now selling insurance

Small businesses in Northern Colorado now have another option for providing group health insurance to employees, courtesy of a partnership between Poudre Valley Health System and Colorado Choice Health Plans.

PVHS quietly launched Peak Health Solutions in December, a family of insurance products that promote health and wellness programs, as well as chronic illness management.

The health-management features of the plans cover 29 chronic-care conditions, according to Carl Smith, vice president of PVHS payor relations.

The plans also offer access to PVHS’s many preventative care programs, such as Healthy Families and Healthy Hearts Club, often at reduced prices.

The program also includes an online service where members can manage their health information, including family health histories and ongoing care.

Peak Health Solutions was developed to address a lack of coverage or inadequate coverage for employees of small businesses in the region and across the nation.

Nationwide, approximately 11 million employees of companies with fewer than 25 workers are uninsured, according to a report by HealthReform.gov.

The plans are also geared toward promoting local providers as a first choice for policyholders. Coverage is organized into two tiers, according to Cynthia Palmer, CEO of Colorado Choice Health Plans.

PVHS hospitals, clinics and other facilities, as well as local providers, are included in the first tier, meaning that policyholders will pay a smaller co-pay at these institutions. The insurance will also be accepted at Banner Health facilities and at providers in other parts of the state, Palmer said, but will fall into the tier-two range, resulting in a higher co-pay.

Choosing Alamosa-based Colorado Choice Health Plans was also an effort on PVHS’s part to keep things local.

“The PVHS preference is always to work with a locally controlled or a Colorado-based health care organization rather than companies that operate in Colorado but send their profits out of state,” University of Colorado Health CEO Rulon Stacey wrote in his “Visionary Healthcare” blog.

University of Colorado Health is the entity created by the joint operating agreement formed between PVHS and University of Colorado Hospital.

“A person enrolled in Peak Health Solutions has the opportunity to go to any contracted hospital or provider that he or she chooses,” Stacey wrote. “It means people will not be forced to change their health care providers or the hospitals they prefer.”

Although Colorado Choice Health Plans’ home base is in southern Colorado, the company has established an office, staffed by three people, in Old Town Fort Collins, to offer sales support and provider services. The company plans on further establishing its Northern Colorado presence by the end of the year, Palmer said.

An extension of services at the Northern Colorado office will mean ramped-up marketing efforts, Palmer said. Peak Health Solutions is just beginning to be marketed in earnest, with a few local businesses shopping for plans with an effective date of June 1.

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Molly Armbrister covers real estate, banking and health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at 970-232-3139, marmbrister@ncbr.com or twitter.com/MArmbristerNCBR

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