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The Season for Falling Uninsured Rates

The Season for Falling Uninsured Rates

There’s a reason they call this season fall. Most of the time, it denotes dropping temperatures or tumbling aspen leaves. But this year it could just as easily refer to falling uninsurance rates, both in Colorado and nationally.

A new CHI analysis, "Counting Colorado's Uninsured 2015: The Latest Estimates," compares estimates from three new surveys.

Here’s the quick rundown on Colorado:

  • The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) found that Colorado’s uninsured rate dropped to 10.3 percent in 2014 from 14.1 percent in 2013.
  • The Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) found an 11.2 percent uninsured rate in Colorado in 2014, down from 12.6 percent in 2013.
  • The Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS) found an historically low uninsured rate of 6.7 percent in 2015. The CHAS survey was fielded later than the two Census Bureau surveys, capturing the second open enrollment numbers.

Looking at the ACS in more detail, Colorado posted a 3.8-percentage point drop. That’s greater than the U.S. decline of 2.8 points.

Colorado also made progress in getting its most in-need residents insured. The uninsured rate for people with household incomes below $25,000 dropped eight percentage points to 14.9 percent. The national uninsurance rate for this group declined 4.2 points to 18.3 percent.

Colorado ranks in the middle of the pack nationally, according to the ACS. Colorado has the 27th lowest uninsurance rate among the 50 states and D.C., a little above the national average.

States with the biggest declines in uninsurance were those that, like Colorado, opted to expand Medicaid. The average uninsurance rate in these states was 9.8 percent in 2014, compared to 13.5 percent in non-expansion states.

Still, 19 of the 25 Medicaid expansion states have lower uninsured rates than Colorado, the ACS found.

Overall uninsured estimates in these three surveys vary because of differences in sample size and methodology. The CHAS and CPS are great resources because they collect detailed health insurance data. CHAS data are particularly helpful for those interested in Colorado-specific information. (CHI administers the CHAS, which is funded by The Colorado Trust.)

The ACS is a good resource for those looking to compare Colorado with other states and the nation. Data can be found through the American Fact Finder website here