by Ashley Thurow

In 2016, the year Monument was formed, health care costs on the Western Slope were considerably higher than the Front Range. To combat this, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, SCL Health St. Mary’s Medical Center, and Primary Care Partners came together, aligned their incentives, and created Monument Health as an innovative approach to healthcare in western Colorado.  We are proud to share that, five years later, we have successfully driven outcomes to change the narrative around healthcare in our community.  Healthcare premiums in the Grand Valley are now comparable to, and in some cases lower than, similar insurance plans on the front range.

As the largest clinically integrated network serving western Colorado, our mission has always been focused on prevention to contain healthcare costs and help people live their healthy best. By guaranteeing access to a primary care provider, encouraging annual screenings and exams, and educating our members on where to go for care, we contain the healthcare spend and improve patient outcomes. By creating a network where physicians, insurance companies, and hospitals are aligned to save their patients money while achieving positive health outcomes, we meet our mission.

We are proud to share some of these results that are reflected in premium rates for our co-branded products on the Connect for Health Colorado insurance exchange, sold by Rocky Mountain Health Plans, a UnitedHealthcare company.   This year, Monument Health exchange plan premiums were, on average, 8 percent lower than they were in 2020. This is an incredible accomplishment because reinsurance levels were reduced by the State of Colorado in 2021. As we head into 2022, Monument Health premiums are once again, on average, 8 percent lower than 2021.  Our popular Silver-tier plan premiums are dropping more than 15 percent.  In effect, an individual purchasing a Monument Health plan will pay less money, dollar for dollar, than they did in 2019!

In fact, our 2022 exchange plan premiums will be lower than all other insurance plan offerings in the areas where Monument Health delivers care, and also lower than several similar options offered on the Front Range.  Effectively, residents of Mesa, Delta, Rio Blanco, and Moffat counties will be paying less money for healthcare than many residents of Boulder, Denver, and Summit Counties.

Our plans also offer considerably more patient-choice, due to our robust network of providers, than other competing insurance carriers on the exchange. In other words, people who are shopping for health insurance on the exchange have more options—in terms of physician offices and providers— to choose from if they select our product, which costs less, than the competition who offers less choice for a higher price.

While simultaneously recognizing that our work still has a long way to go, this is one step in the right direction for western Colorado.  Our founding partners—SCL Health St. Mary’s, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, a UnitedHealthcare Company, and Primary Care Partners— along with the providers, practices, hospitals in our network are committed to achieving real affordability.

Demonstrably high-performing primary care medical homes like Primary Care Partners, Patterson Primary Care (SCL Health), and Western Valley Family Practice (Family Health West)—to name just a few— are willing and committed to integrated, high quality, and total cost performance to serve within our network. Through this commitment, our network of providers and facilities are able to keep care local rather than sending our friends and family members to Denver or Utah for care.

Not only are we keeping care local and reducing the cost of care, we’re also serving every single population in the community regardless of insurance coverage type. We couldn’t have accomplished this without our network partners. They deliver high-quality care and are willing to integrate and be held accountable to positive patient outcomes as we drive down the total cost of care and reduce premiums year-over-year for our members, which also happen to be our friends and neighbors in western Colorado.

In less than six years since our inception, we are proud that we can celebrate western Colorado’s healthcare prices compare favorably to similar products on the Front Range, we are keeping care local, and we are committed to serving our community with excellence!

Ashley Thurow is the Executive Director of Monument Health, a clinically integrated network based in Grand Junction, CO. Still unclear about Monument Health? Simply put, Monument Health is not health insurance—Monument Health doesn’t handle your premiums, determine coverage, or process your claims. Rather Monument Health partners with health insurance to provide the framework and accountability for high-level integration between hospitals, physicians, and insurance companies to ensure the delivery of high-quality healthcare, less red tape or duplication, and cost containment for its members. Learn more at