Rocky Mountain Health Plans to enter state insurance exchange

Rocky Mountain Health Plans is set “pretty comfortably” to enter a competitive marketplace on Tuesday when eligible Coloradans can sign up for health insurance at an online marketplace, the head of the Grand Junction insurer said.

Rocky Mountain Health Plans, in fact, “will be one of the few companies on the exchange with a five-star rating,” said Steve ErkenBrack, the plan’s president and CEO.

With the debut on Tuesday of ConnectforHealthColorado.com, the online marketplace, Rocky Mountain Health Plans will compete with several other insurers that will be listed on the marketplace. The nonprofit insurer was founded four decades ago to ensure access to health care for Medicare and Medicaid patients in the Grand Valley, an isolated market that drew little interest from other health insurance carriers.

ConnectforHealthColorado.com has more companies participating in the online marketplace than other state-operated exchanges, “and Rocky has more plans than any company on the exchange,” ErkenBrack said.

The company’s history also will serve it well as consumers scan a variety of bronze, silver, gold and platinum plans because of its rating, ErkenBrack said.

Rocky, however, will have a five-star quality rating while some of its competitors, with little or no history in the state, will have none, ErkenBrack noted.

Rocky also is working to burnish its image with an advertising campaign that sometimes competes with ConnectforHealthColorado.com, the online marketplace which will carry its offerings.

The company’s history of encouraging broad access to care, collaboration, and cost control factored into the rating, ErkenBrack said.

Rocky Mountain Health Plans’ “Transitions” program, in which the insurer monitors the progress of patients just released from the hospital so as to prevent painful — and expensive — readmissions, brought the company national attention and saved money for providers and Rocky itself.

Likewise, the Grand Junction model, as the system in the Grand Valley is known for its cooperation among physicians, hospitals, home health care providers and the insurer, also contributed to the quality rating, ErkenBrack said.

Given the history and Rocky Mountain’s breadth of offerings, ErkenBrack said, “I’m pretty confident.”


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