The Local, Community Voice for Affordable Healthcare

Communities in southwest Colorado have benefitted from the partnership between Local First Foundation and Peak Health Alliance to bring more affordable health insurance options to local residents and businesses. Our efforts have recirculated $5.5 million dollars back into the community to date!

Deadline Extended to Dec. 31 For Direct Enrollment With Elevate Health Plans for Jan. 1 Coverage

We are delighted to announce that Elevate Health Plans by Denver Health Medical Plan will offer the most budget-friendly health insurance plans in southwest Colorado for 2024. Premiums for health plans offered by Elevate Health Plans will be 5% to 35% less than other plans, depending on the type of plan selected. This can translate to hundreds or even thousands of dollars in savings over the next year for consumers (see chart below).

Local First partnered with Peak Health Alliance to bring Elevate Health Plans to southwest Colorado for 2024. With 130,000 members, Denver Health Medical Plan brings decades of experience and a commitment to excellence demonstrated through accreditation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. The plans are available to residents of Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, and San Juan counties.

Elevate Health Plans offers ACA-compliant Bronze, Silver, and Gold Colorado Option Plans as well as a Bronze HSA (Health Savings Account) qualified plan to individuals and families who buy their own insurance. These plans are also available to businesses who elect to use an Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement (ICHRA) for employee coverage. 

The partnership between Peak Health Alliance and Elevate Health Plans includes:

  • $0 preventative care services 
  • $0 to low-cost primary care visits 
  • $0 to low-cost mental health outpatient visits.
  • Local providers including primary care doctors, specialists, and mental health providers (view the provider directory here). 

Compare which plan is right for you and find out whether you qualify for financial assistance to reduce your premiums and cost-sharing. There is no income cap to qualify for premium subsidies (tax credits) so more people than ever are benefiting. 

Elevate Health Plans can be purchased through Connect for Health Colorado (to qualify for financial assistance) or directly through Denver Health Medical Plan. Open enrollment runs through January 15, 2024 but you must enroll in a plan by December 15 for coverage to begin on January 1st

We are here to help! Doug McCarthy, our local healthcare advocate, can help you explore options for help including local insurance brokers and enrollment assisters certified by Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s official insurance marketplace.

Businesses can benefit from using Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRAs) to cover their employees. ICHRAs are employer-funded, tax-advantaged health benefits that allow employees to choose their own health plan.

Contact Doug McCarthy at 970-799-6618 or by email at

Peak Health Alliance

Local First has partnered with the Peak Health Alliance, a Colorado-licensed healthcare purchasing cooperative with a track record of reducing health insurance premiums while maintaining local and high quality care, through the power of community collaboration. Because both Peak Health Alliance and Elevate Health Plans are not-for-profit organizations, they do not have private shareholders and can focus on serving the community.

Learn More

Mission and Values

We work to provide affordable, accessible, and high-quality healthcare to the residents of southwest Colorado.

  • Affordable health care available to all.

  • Benefit to the community and local economy.

  • Advocate for local healthcare practitioners.

  • Reduce economic leakage and recirculate dollars locally.

  • Transparency and accountability.

  • Maintain the best interest of the community, not special interest groups.

  • Emphasis on data, evidence, and performance metrics.

Our work started in 2018 in response to a growing concern from local businesses about the rising cost of healthcare. Read the Community Needs Assessment that set us on the path to affordable, local healthcare.


Be Local Radio Playlist


Eric Malone with The Payroll Department shares his story of saving $30,000 when choosing a locally crafted healthcare plan for his employees.

The Powerhouse Behind Our Work.

Steering Committee

Patrick Gerstenberger, MD

Retired Physician

Gary Keil

American Heritage Railways

Jack Llewellyn

Durango Chamber of Commerce

Doug McCarthy

Local First Foundation

Nanette Penz-Reuter


Suzanne Phare

The Durango Network 

Tim Wheeler

Local First

Briggen Wrinkle

Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado

We Need Your Support.

The Local First Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit working to ensure the community's voice is front and center in healthcare. We receive no commissions and are completely outside the healthcare finance system. We need your support to keep doing our important work. Please consider donating today. Thank you!