Local Health Care

Local Health Care

Why does Local First even care about health care?

Local First is the voice of the local, independent business community in La Plata County. Most of our 274 members are small businesses with less than 50 employees. And many of those businesses are entrepreneurial in nature and just getting their business underway. This means that revenues are often limited when it comes to providing employee benefits such as health insurance, health and wellness incentives, and retirement plans. In order to compete for high quality employees, providing some kind of health package is standard practice these days. In 2018, Local First heard from an overwhelming number of its members that the rising cost of health care was becoming a major obstacle to running their business.

What sort of solutions is Local First exploring?

Right around the time our members were approaching us asking if we could work on health care issues, Local First was introduced to the Durango Network. The Durango Network represents approximately 200 local health care providers in the La Plata County region. These health care providers are also local, independent businesses in addition to wearing their health provider hat. Local First and The Durango Network realized that a partnership between the two organizations would be a strong foundation to address barriers to health care in La Plata County. Thanks to a $25,000 grant from Rocky Mountain Health Foundation, Local First is conducting a community needs assessment to learn from small employers what barriers to entry exist around health care. After a series of focus groups in January of this year, we heard loud and clear that our community is looking for a cooperative solution to address health care, and looking local first could be a valuable way to start.

Can discussing local health care be creative and innovative?

We absolutely need to get creative when thinking about rising health care costs. The intent of the community needs assessment was to take all preconceived notions and throw them out the window and start from scratch. First we listened to the business community and now we are creating an innovative solution without considering the regulatory constraints that might exist at the local and state level. Then, we will overlay those constraints and see how to color outside the lines, so to speak, but still on the piece of paper.

Can I go see a doctor easily and affordably?

Yes! If you are signed up for a primary care physician such as Whole Health Medicine or Mountain View Family HealthCare, you can see your doctor whenever you want for a low monthly membership fee. If you have health insurance, you may be able to see a doctor with a reasonable co-pay amount, although that co-pay amount is most likely going to be about the same as a monthly membership with a direct primary care physician. If you need to go the hospital because you broke your arm, direct primary care is not going to cover that expense, and you are going to wish you had catastrophic insurance coverage or regular insurance coverage to assist with those medical costs that are outside of a direct primary care visit.

What is a health care forum, when is it, and who can participate?

A health care forum is a way to learn about health care issues and the state of health care, to listen to other health alliance models across the west slope, and most importantly, to start a dialogue with your fellow community members and business owners on starting a health care alliance or cooperative here in La Plata County. Anyone can participate, but we are especially hoping our business community will attend.


You can register online at www.local-first.orgfhealth-care. For $25 you get an awesome lunch and keynote talk by Doug McCarthy, Issues Research Inc.