Colorado has a reputation as one of the nation’s healthiest states. Most residents (85.2%) describe their health as good, very good, or excellent. But some groups of Coloradans report better health than others.
Socioeconomic factors such as income, employment, and education are known to be connected to health outcomes. Indeed, people with incomes below the federal poverty level are twice as likely as other Coloradans to report fair or poor health (26.7% versus 13.0%).
It’s often thought that health insurance can help mitigate these disparities, but the data show that this is just part of the picture. Uninsured Coloradans do report worse health than those with private insurance, but rates of poor health are the highest among people who are enrolled in Medicaid.
Data: Historic inequities and present-day racism can have profound impacts on health status. Almost one in five Hispanic/Latinx Coloradans (19.4 percent) and black (non-Hispanic/Latinx) Coloradans (18.3 percent) report fair or poor health. By comparison, 13.0 percent of white (non-Hispanic/Latinx) Coloradans describe their health as fair or poor.
Evidence shows that good oral health is an essential component of overall health. But nearly one in five Coloradans (18.4 percent) report fair or poor oral health, up from 16.2 percent in 2017.
Still, there’s reason to smile: Dental insurance and utilization rates continue to rise, likely thanks to expansions in Medicaid dental benefits for adults in 2014.
Kids ages 6 to 12 years are more likely to have seen a dentist in the past year than older children and adults. They are also more likely to get care than kids younger than 6, which may indicate that parents aren’t aware of the need for early dental care.
Policy: House Bill 19-1038 expanded dental services for pregnant women who have coverage through CHP+. As of April 2019, these women can now receive dental care during this important time for their oral health.
Data: Despite Medicaid dental coverage expansions, Coloradans with lower incomes are less likely to see a dentist.
Aging and Advance Directives
Almost all Coloradans age 65 or older (99.9 percent) are insured, thanks largely to Medicare, which provides coverage to people in this age group.
Despite this near-universal coverage, however, barriers to timely, appropriate care persist — and, in some cases, are getting worse. More than one in six Coloradans age 65 or older (17.6 percent) went without needed medical care because they were unable to get an appointment soon enough in 2019, up from one in nine (11.3 percent) in 2017.
Aging can bring additional difficulties in accessing care, including finding a provider who accepts Medicare or securing transportation to and from the provider. Still, most older adults (77.8 percent) report that their overall health is good, very good, or excellent. And in case their health changes, more than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of all older adults have an advance directive, living will, or medical durable power of attorney in place.
Policy: Senate Bill 19-073 tasked the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) with creating and administering a statewide system that will allow Coloradans to upload and access an electronic version of their advance medical directives. This is intended to allow patients, family members, and medical professionals easier access to a patient’s advance directives in order to ensure their end-of-life wishes are honored.