Briefed by the Bell — Health Care

Colorado has made major strides in increasing access to health care over the last 10 years, but consistently increasing costs put health care out of reach for families. Policymakers should focus on Colorado’s pain points related to cost and work to alleviate them through a combination of short- and long-term changes.

Check out our Briefed by the Bell Hub to read our earlier briefs on wages, family securityfiscal policy, the predatory economywealth and income inequality, and two-generation solutions.

What You Should Know About Health Care in Colorado

Reforms made over the past decade by Colorado policymakers, including those possible because of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), allowed our state to improve health, particularly access to insurance coverage, for hundreds of thousands of people. Access to health care is the first step toward better health and economic mobility. Affordable health care is another key component, one that demands immediate attention.

As shown in our recent report on Colorado’s middle class families, incomes for two-adult, two-child households have risen only 21 percent between 2000 and 2016, but health care costs have risen 70 percent over the same time period. Other dynamics at play include fewer Coloradans having access to coverage through an employer, many Coloradans bearing greater out-of-pocket costs than before — higher than in most of the country — and increasing health insurance costs. This problem is especially acute in Western and resort communities in the state, where few insurance options, a high cost of living, and higher medical costs are driving up prices and forcing people out of the region. The costs of forgoing care, including cutting basic needs, going into debt, or skipping care altogether, are too high to ignore.

In our latest Briefed by the Bell, we look at Colorado’s current health care landscape and some innovative policies that will relieve some costs for families across the state. We also caution against some policies that will only lead to higher costs and more pain for Coloradans.