We often hear that people lack health insurance because it’s too expensive. But across the state, many uninsured residents say they don’t have insurance not because they can’t afford it, but because they simply don’t need it.
In nine of Colorado’s 21 Health Statistics Regions (HSRs), more than 30 percent of the uninsured population gave “not needing insurance” as the primary reason for not having it, according the 2013 Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS). This assertion was most common across counties in northern, central and southwestern Colorado.
Only one county, Douglas (HSR 3), had fewer than 10 percent of its uninsured residents cite not needing health insurance as the primary reason for lacking coverage. Five additional HSRs, which include 19 counties, had less than one in five uninsured people claim that they did not need insurance.
This opinion is most often associated with the “young invincibles,” people between the ages of 19 and 29 who tend to shy away from coverage because they do not anticipate needing it.
However, the CHAS found that young people were not statistically more likely than others to believe they don’t need insurance. Instead, perceptions about the need for insurance depend to some degree on a person’s health status: 27 percent of uninsured Coloradans who reported their health as “good, very good or excellent” stated that they did not need health insurance, compared with 18 percent of uninsured Coloradans who said their health is “fair or poor.”
There were also clear differences by race and gender, with uninsured Hispanics and uninsured males being significantly more likely than other groups to say they had no need for insurance.
Look for the next edition of the CHAS – scheduled to be released in 2015 – to delve deeper into uninsured rates and Coloradans’ reasons for purchasing insurance (or not).