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From Our CEO

November 5, 2013

The CHAS is here!

The 2013 Colorado Health Access Survey, fondly referred to as the “CHAS,” provides unparalleled insight into how we Coloradans get health insurance coverage, how we access health care services and how we use health care.

Better yet, this year’s results will serve as our “starting point” for measuring and monitoring the effectiveness of many of the components of the Affordable Care Act.

What’s interesting in the results?  Here are a few headlines:

  • Our statewide uninsurance rate is 14.3 percent, holding relatively steady from the 15.8 percent rate in the 2011 CHAS. The decrease in the uninsured makes sense both directionally and intuitively. As we slowly recover from the economic recession, more Coloradans are employed and insured.  This also provides us with starting point for the roll-out of the individual mandate. There are about 741,000 Coloradans who are uninsured, many of whom will seek coverage in the coming months.
  • The CHAS reveals some early indications of policy successes.  In particular, fewer people with pre-existing conditions report troubles getting insurance coverage. In 2009, 14.2 percent of uninsured Coloradans reported that one reason they didn’t have health insurance was because they had a pre-existing condition. That percentage fell to 6.1 percent this year. Although we need to delve into this more deeply, it may point to the effectiveness of such programs GettingUSCovered, the federal high risk pool for people with chronic conditions, and the Affordable Care Act provision that includes guaranteed coverage for children.
  • Cost as a barrier to getting insurance is diminishing. Fewer of us cite the cost of coverage as a barrier to acquiring health insurance coverage.  While 82 percent of uninsured Coloradans attribute their lack of coverage to cost, this is down from the 88 percent who reported this reason two years ago. There are a couple possible reasons for this. First, compared to historical trends, we have seen relatively low average growth in the cost of insurance premiums for the past couple years. We also have seen a decline in uninsurance rates among our lowest-income population, those below the poverty line, a group that is extremely price sensitive.

The Colorado Health Institute rolled out these findings and many others to key stakeholders – community health partners, advocacy organizations, legislators, researchers and business professionals.

In the coming months, the Colorado Health Institute will dive deeper into our findings.  You can, too. For the first time, we have provided data in the form of more than 200 tabulated charts. You can find it here.

Creating the CHAS is a major undertaking.  We thank The Colorado Trust for its support of this invaluable community asset.  And let us know how the CHAS and CHI can help better inform your work.