Health of Aspen an expensive proposition |

Health of Aspen an expensive proposition

Sacha Jane Haas
Inside Business
Aspen, CO Colorado

The Aspen Chamber Resort Association and Roaring Fork Valley Community Health Plant recently hosted the “Colorado Health Care Reform: What’s the Employer Response?” as a way to inform local employers of health care reform efforts in Colorado and capture their responses to proposed changes. They reviewed legislative proposals and recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform to take back to the Capitol.

The commission, created last year, is examining ways to lower costs and increase access to quality care. Lawmakers are closely watching the work of the group because it may form the basis of large-scale health care reform in Colorado next year. The solutions it recommends, as well as policies developed by lawmakers and the Ritter administration, could have a profound impact on businesses and employees.

Of great concern to Aspen’s businesses is the small-group insurance category they often find themselves in. If you have ever shopped around for a good insurance policy for your small business, as surely many of you have, you already know how costly and limited the options are here in the Roaring Fork Valley. However, the good news is that Colorado’s small-group market now guarantees health coverage for sole proprietors and groups of two to 50. Additionally, under House Bill 1355 insurers can no longer give discounts or increase rates based oN the health of employees who work for a small business. The legislation affects employees who get insurance through the small-group market.

According to the Denver Business Journal, factions on both sides disagreed on whether rate banding is a problem or a solution to rising health care costs. The cost of health care is a chief concern of Colorado businesses. Opinions also differed on whether high-risk policyholders should pay more for escalating medical charges, or if the expenses should be spread over the general population.

The bill found opposition from some insurers and the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, who said the proposal will increase rates. The measure was supported by the National Federation of Independent Business, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, AARP, Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union and others.

A new survey has been created to capture your opinions. Ralph Pollock and Amy Fletcher of the Business Health Forum came to Aspen to lead the discussion and gather feedback. Pollock served on the Blue Ribbon Commission and chairs the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry’s health council. Prior to joining the Business Health Forum, Fletcher spent seven years reporting on health care and the state legislature for the Denver Business Journal.

If you were unable to be at the event you are invited to learn more about important reform issues by signing up for their weekly newsletter and by indicating the issues that most interest you on their “Get Involved” page. Sign up at, and, in the coming months, they will e-mail you pertinent information about the health issues you care about most.

The Business Health Forum helps business leaders get more involved in health care reform. They engage the business community in major health care policy reform efforts, including work done through the Colorado General Assembly, Governor Bill Ritter’s administration, and other initiatives, and they provide information to the business community to encourage thoughtful participation in the health care reform debate.

The Aspen Chamber Resort Association encourages all businesses to learn more and stay healthy. For more information call Heather Compton at the Aspen Chamber Resort Association at 925-1940.

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