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Tick, Tick, Tick: What We Know About the Most Likely Connect for Health Colorado Customers

A few weeks ago, I visited Connect for Health Colorado for the first time. The offices had the feel of a start-up: lots of people working hard to meet an ambitious set of deadlines. A dry erase board counted down the days until October 1. There were 71 at the time. As of today, August 22, there are 39.

As the clock ticks toward launch of Colorado’s new insurance marketplace, leaders across the state are grappling with plenty of unanswered questions. Will Connect for Health Colorado’s marketing and outreach efforts raise awareness about the new marketplace? How many people will buy coverage through Connect for Health Colorado? What do we know about them?

Today, data from the Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS) sheds light on that last question. The CHAS is a biannual telephone survey of 10,000 Coloradans. It provides information on health care access and utilization in Colorado that no other survey does.

The latest CHAS issue brief, “Colorado’s Health Insurance Marketplace: A Profile of Likely Consumers” analyzes 2011 CHAS data on uninsured Coloradans. It focuses on uninsured individuals who are likely to be eligible for federal subsidies to buy insurance on Connect for Health Colorado, or those with incomes between 138 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

Compared to privately insured adults with the same income levels, the CHAS reveals that this population is:

  • Slightly more likely to be Hispanic and slightly less likely to be white. They are more likely to speak a language other than English at home, and it is most likely Spanish.
  • Less likely to be employed. In addition, they are much more likely to work for a business with fewer than 50 employees (43 percent) compared to privately-insured adults (26 percent).
  • Far less likely to have a usual source of care. About half (51 percent) said they have a usual source of care, compared to 86 percent of privately-insured adults.
  • Half as likely to visit a doctor (38 percent) as privately-insured adults (72 percent). About 35 percent said they visited a dentist compared to 67 percent of the privately insured.
  • Possibly going without needed medical care because their budgets won't allow it. Approximately four of 10 reported not seeing a doctor (39 percent) or dentist (42 percent) because it cost too much. Three of 10 (32 percent) reported not seeing a specialist because of cost, and nearly one-quarter (24 percent) did not fill a prescription because of cost.
  • A little less healthy, though the difference was not statistically significant. More than half (55 percent) reported being in very good or excellent health, the two top categories. By comparison, 63 percent of insured adults reported very good or excellent health. This suggests that the health status of the newly insured may be a factor in the cost of health insurance premiums on the marketplace beginning in 2014.

For more information, download the full issue brief or check out this infographic summarizing the key findings.