The 2023 Colorado Health Access Survey captures a historical moment with important lessons for health policy. The survey of nearly 10,000 Colorado households, which was fielded from March to September 2023, reveals substantial changes in health, health access, and social stressors stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s response to it.
More than 19 in 20 Coloradans had health insurance in 2023. Emergency rules to keep people enrolled in Medicaid during the pandemic allowed the state to achieve this historic high.
But these gains already are being reversed. Federal policy requires states to disenroll people who no longer qualify for Medicaid now that the official public health emergency has ended. The CHAS tells a similar story about the effects of housing policy during the pandemic. The state and federal governments took emergency action to help renters and forbid evictions. But those policies have expired, and the CHAS shows a larger share of Coloradans are now worried about where they will live.
The 2023 CHAS findings reveal a moment of truth for Colorado. They show what we can achieve through public policy — especially better health care access and more stable housing. They also show what we can lose when we walk away from policy gains.
This year’s survey addresses the most pressing health issues of the moment.
It brings data to help us understand long-running problems that we haven’t fully addressed through policy, such as disrespect by some health care providers, the lack of broadband needed for telehealth services, and the difficulty some people face in finding sources to learn about their health care.
The survey also spotlights new issues that will shape our world in the future. It reveals how Coloradans think about climate change and health. And it quantifies the toll of long COVID.
Above all, the survey shows the struggle for health access is far from over. Our understanding of health access has broadened in the 15 years since the first CHAS to include mental health and social resources such as food, housing, and child care. The 2023 survey shows one thing hasn’t changed: Health policy can improve lives, but effective policy requires a long-term commitment to the health of all Coloradans.