Health Insurance Coverage in Colorado Rises to Historic High
DENVER – Health insurance coverage in Colorado reached an all-time high in 2023, according to the latest Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS), portions of which debuted today.
The uninsured rate dropped to 4.6% in 2023, after staying at roughly 6.5% since 2015.
The Colorado Health Institute (CHI) fields the CHAS every other year. The 10,000-household survey has served Colorado since 2009, making it the state’s longest-running and most reliable source of information on health access, health care costs, and the social factors that influence health.
The 4.6% uninsured rate is the lowest in the survey’s history. The gains in coverage came through Health First Colorado, the state’s Medicaid program. The state did not disenroll people from Medicaid during the COVID-19 public health emergency due to the federal continuous coverage provision. (See below for more on this topic.)
“We were happy to see such a steep drop in Colorado’s uninsured rate. Health insurance is essential to access health care,” said Sara Schmitt, President and CEO of CHI. “The pandemic was a terrible experience, but these results show that smart, decisive policy choices can make a real difference in people’s lives.”
CHI also released CHAS findings on three other topics today.
- Mental health. More than one in four people age 5 and up (26.2%) reported poor mental health in 2023. That’s an all-time high but statistically unchanged from 2021. As mental health worsened, so did access to care. Some 880,000 Coloradans, or 17.0%, said they could not get the mental health care they needed in 2023, most often because they could not get an appointment. The CHAS defines poor mental health as eight or more days in the past month in which a person said their mental health was “not good.”
- Climate change. Nearly 2 million Coloradans said climate change had an impact on their or their family’s health in the past year. The most common effects this group cited were respiratory trouble (39.4%) and increased problems with mental health or substance use (19.8%).
- Housing instability. In 2023, 7.1% of Coloradans worried they would not have a place to live in the next two months. The rate was up from 5.6% in 2021, and it represents 390,000 Coloradans who worried about having a place to live in 2023. Renters were seven times as likely to report housing instability as homeowners. Increasing housing instability is likely a consequence of the end of pandemic-related aid to renters and protections against eviction.
More about Medicaid and the public health emergency: During the COVID-19 public health emergency, the federal government told states not to disenroll anyone from their Medicaid programs. As a result, Medicaid membership in Colorado climbed to 30% of the population, according to the CHAS. The public health emergency ended in May 2023, and states had to start disenrolling people who no longer qualified for Medicaid during the summer, while the CHAS was in the field. Future years of the CHAS will reflect any ongoing effects of these changes in coverage.
More CHAS Data Coming Soon
CHI will release full results from the 2023 CHAS in February. The survey includes long-running questions on topics such as health care affordability and barriers to care. It also includes new questions on long COVID, access to reproductive health care, and other topics. Data and analysis on those questions will not be ready for release until February.
Data tables for the questions released today are on CHI’s website at https://www.coloradohealthinstitute.org/research/colorado-health-access-survey-2023. CHI will release the full dataset, including results by region, in February.
The Colorado Health Foundation provided funding for the 2023 CHAS. Other funders included the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, Colorado Springs Health Foundation, Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation, Colorado Gives Foundation, the Colorado Department of Human Services, the Behavioral Health Administration, the Office of eHealth Innovation, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and The Steadman Group.
Joe Hanel, Director of Communications
Colorado Health Institute