An answer to health insurance quagmire

Chamber offers new insurance program

A discounted group health insurance program for local businesses is now being offered through the Crested Butte-Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce. The chamber has been working on such a program since 2004 and as of this week, it is now available.


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A business of any size in Gunnison County that is a member of the chamber can sign up for the discounted coverage. The program will be under the umbrella of the Roaring Fork Valley Community Health Plan. The main insurance provider is Aetna.
There are 16 different plan designs to choose from. For example, the “rich plan” would allow a 24-year-old employee to have a $500 deductible with $15 office co-pays, for $350 a month. The less expensive plan for the same employee would include a $1,000 deductible with $35 co-pays, for $164 a month.
Coordinated by the Van Gilder Insurance Corporation of Denver, the new program is also compatible for those with Health Savings Accounts.
Van Gilder vice president Brad O’Neill said there is also a program to cover seasonal workers. “It is more geared toward accidents as opposed to major medical, but it starts at $40 a month,” he explained.
Each business can offer up to three different plans for its employees. Chamber of Commerce director Christi Matthews says the plans are a good deal and also offer flexibility. She said since Aetna has been the provider for the Roaring Fork Valley program, there has been a retention rate of about 95 percent.
“The hospital and the vast majority of area health care providers have agreed to participate in the program and sign up as providers with the program,” Matthews said. “It shows the commitment of the health care providers in the valley for this plan.”
O’Neill said it also offers the chance for lower free market health insurance premiums. “This program will be well received in the valley,” he said. “It is an incentive for competition in the valley as far as insurance. Hooking up with the Roaring Fork, it also allows a small community like Crested Butte to be part of a larger group with the same focus.”
Matthews pointed out that some recent action in the Colorado legislature could result in higher insurance costs for citizens. “This is a way to buffer that expected increase,” she said. “We’ve had lots of interest from local businesses so we know there is a need.”
To find out more about the program, go to

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