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CO Consumers Report Concerns About Cost & Quality of Care

A recent survey from the Colorado Health Institute (CHI) is highlighting consumers’ concerns with the affordability and quality of their health care, reports The Colorado Independent. The survey found that while the overall percentage of consumers with insurance coverage has remained stable, concerns about care remain.

While the state’s population of uninsured individuals has remained around 6.5 percent, the rate varies across regions. Jefferson County, a wealthier county where more adults are older than 65 and qualify for Medicare, has Colorado’s lowest uninsured population rate, roughly 2.6 percent. However, the uninsured rate in the region that includes Summit, Eagle, Grand, Garfield and Pitkin counties is roughly 14 percent. The region also has some of the most expensive insurance premiums in the nation. Additionally, the make-up of the insured population is changing, including an increase in the number of children who do not have coverage. The uninsured rate of Coloradans who make 200-300% of the federal poverty rate, around $12,060 for an individual, has also increased.

But despite most Coloradans having insurance, consumers reported having trouble affording housing, food, and medical bills.

When asked why they lacked insurance coverage, almost 9 out of 10 answered cost. Among the insured, almost 1 in 5 said they had problems paying a medical bill in the past year, and in a newly added question, more than 3 in 10 people said they received a surprise medical bill.

CHI’s findings are consistent with Consumers for Quality Care’s research results. CQC and Ipsos found that 88 percent of consumers believe that lowering out-of-pocket health care expenses should be a top priority for lawmakers in Washington and 91 percent of consumers also said that they want to better understand the costs associated with their health care. Additionally, 60 percent of Colorado voters reported that health care was the most important issue on their minds.

While consumers in Colorado reported using their health care, the number of consumers seeking preventative care decreased.

This year the survey added a question asking people if they felt they were treated unfairly when seeking medical care. About 15% reported being treated unfairly sometimes or often, saying they thought it was because of their age, gender or disability status. Bontrager said in the future CHI wants to delve more into how gender affects care.

The number of Coloradans who reported seeking mental health care has increased, but so has the percentage of individuals who believed they needed mental health care or substance abuse care but did not seek it.

The cost of treatment was the number one reason for people forgoing mental health and substance abuse care. The second most common reported reason was that they did not feel comfortable seeking treatment because of stigma or difficulty admitting they have a problem. A smaller group said they didn’t seek treatment because they thought insurance wouldn’t cover it.

Consumers for Quality Care has previously highlighted how consumers with high deductible insurance plans often skip medical care due to the cost, as well as the lack of parity in mental health care.


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