However, all is not equal across Colorado.
Boulder and Douglas counties tie for the highest access score at 8.3. Saguache County in the San Luis Valley has the lowest score of 6.2.
The index also measures access to care by income and race/ethnicity. Hispanic Coloradans report an access score of 8.1 compared with 8.5 for white (non-Hispanic) residents. And despite the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, lower-income Coloradans have an access to care score of 8.1 compared with 8.7 for higher-income groups.
How should the findings from the 2017 Access to Care Index be interpreted?
The answer is two ways: as a glass half-full and a glass half-empty.
Concerns that the ACA’s coverage expansions would overwhelm the medical system did not come to pass. In general, measures of access to care did not diminish between 2015 and 2017 in the wake of Medicaid expansion, arguably the most far-reaching health policy change of a generation. An estimated 600,000 more Coloradans had health insurance in 2017 than in 2013, the year before the state expanded Medicaid eligibility.
On the other hand, Colorado has not seen an increase in use of health care, especially preventive care, which might have been expected with the rise in the number of insured Coloradans. In fact, the score for the Realized Access portion of the index declined a bit between 2015 and 2017. This indicates that use of needed services has yet to catch up with increases in coverage, suggesting that educating Coloradans about how to navigate the system or the value of preventive care may need additional attention.
Click here to watch a recording of our May 10, 2018, webinar.
Click here to download our Access to Care Index PowerPoint presentation.