From her office in one of the most picturesque communities in America, Tamara Drangstveit heard every day about the horrors of living there.
Monthly health insurance premiums in Summit County were higher than mortgage payments. Residents were toughing out illnesses and injuries at home rather than going to the doctor. Families were packing up and moving to find more affordable coverage.
But now, she and other Summit County leaders have led a first-of-its-kind effort in Colorado that is poised to lower health insurance prices for many in the county — and could become a model for communities across the state to gain leverage over a health care system that often feels suffocating.
In the stodgy world of health policy, this is about as cinematic as it gets: A group of small-town locals, fed up with high prices, fighting together for a better deal from two powerful industries. And, despite those challenges, they appear to have pulled it off. When many people in Summit County go shopping for health coverage next year, Drangstveit said they could see premium prices 20% lower — a savings of hundreds of dollars a month for families.
“I think that it is a huge first step for our community,” said Drangstveit, the executive director of the Family and Intercultural Resource Center in Silverthorne, which helps people find health coverage. “And it will go a long way toward making it more affordable for Summit County residents to get health care.”
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