2011 Colorado Health Access Survey provides what other surveys miss

Where do uninsured Coloradans go when they need medical care? How much do insured people pay out-of-pocket for health care? While many data sources provide the percentage (or number) of people in Colorado who lack health insurance, the Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS) is the only  survey that focuses on Coloradans’ health insurance status, access to care, usage of health care services and affordability. The Colorado Trust launched a new website and released initial findings from the 2011 CHAS this morning.

From May through August 2011, the CHAS was fielded to collect information on Coloradans’ health insurance status as well as to learn much more about the demographic characteristics and health-seeking behaviors of people who are adequately insured, uninsured and underinsured. The CHAS is a program of The Colorado Trust and is a follow-up to the 2008-09 Colorado Household Survey (COHS). The two surveys provide baseline information about health care coverage and access in anticipation of state and national health reforms.

Under contract with The Colorado Trust, the Colorado Health Institute (CHI) administered the telephone survey of approximately 10,000 randomly selected households in Colorado, including 1,400 cell-phone-only households. The CHAS includes questions about health insurance coverage, household income and the employment status of all working-age adults in the household; health status; access to health care; health care utilization; out-of-pocket health care expenses; and the affordability of health care.

Initial findings from the 2011 CHAS include:

  • More than 1.5 million people in Colorado are uninsured or underinsured.
  • The uninsured population in Colorado is increasing. The number of uninsured increased significantly from 678,000 (13.5%) to 829,000 (15.8%) between 2008-09 and 2011.
  • 675,000 (13%) Coloradans who are covered by health insurance spend more than 10% of their annual income on out-of-pocket expenses for medical care, including prescriptions, co-pays, medical equipment, etc.
  • 92% of insured Coloradans have a usual place to go for health care-related issues; however, only 67% of uninsured Coloradans reported the same level of health care access.

Additional information with further in-depth analyses of the 2011 CHAS findings will be available in the form of issue briefs and other reports, and through presentations by The Colorado Trust and the Colorado Health Institute. This information will be available periodically throughout 2012-13, until data from the next CHAS are available. CHI staff is available to answer questions, provide technical assistance and assist individuals in obtaining data files containing both COHS and CHAS data.

Data files for the CHAS and COHS are available to the public in the form of a research file, public use file, custom reports, etc.  For more information on the Colorado Health Access Survey and access to the data, please visit www.COHealthAccessSurvey.org.

Rebecca Silvernale is a senior data analyst at CHI.