Health Care in Colorado Impacts Economic Mobility

Over the past several years, Colorado has engaged in ambitious health policymaking. From the creation of legislative commissions to spur health coverage reforms to Governor Hickenlooper’s vision and plan to make Colorado “the healthiest state,” our state has enjoyed bipartisan leadership on a variety of initiatives aimed at improving health care in Colorado.

A historic number of Coloradans now have health insurance. The 2017 Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS) shows almost 600,000 more residents have insurance today than in 2013. At 6.5 percent, Colorado’s uninsured rate is down from nearly 18 percent 10 years ago.

Related: Making Sense of Rising Medicaid Costs

But there are still improvements to be made, as Colorado’s health gains haven’t been felt equally by all. Historically vulnerable populations, such as immigrants, non-citizens, and people of color, particularly Hispanic Coloradans, are more likely to be uninsured than others, as are those who make just over the income threshold to be eligible for subsidies.

Protecting & Improving Health Care in Colorado

We could make even greater strides by recognizing the clear influence opportunity has on health. Research from Boston University reveals areas of low economic opportunity are associated with higher mortality rates and greater incidences of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, and moving from these areas to counties of high opportunity could improve mortality rates by 16.7 percent. The Brookings Institution suggests a lack of well-paying jobs and a dearth in the economic and social supports people need to thrive are partly to blame for a rising premature death rate among Americans with lower levels of education.

Our policy efforts should protect and improve upon the gains Colorado has made with respect to care and coverage, seek new ways to lower costs for our system and for individuals, and leverage the knowledge that better health outcomes occur by enriching how we live, work, learn, and play.

To learn more, read the health section of our Guide to Economic Mobility in Colorado.