Celebrating a Decade of Data With the 2016 Colorado Health Report Card

The results of the 2016 Colorado Health Report Card, released today, mark a decade of progress and challenges on the way to making Colorado the healthiest state.

The report, a collaborative project between the Colorado Health Foundation and the Colorado Health Institute, grades Colorado’s progress on 38 key health indicators across five life stages.

There’s a lot to be proud of.

In the past 10 years, Colorado has made impressive strides. Today, just 11 percent of pregnant women skip prenatal care, down from 21 percent 10 years earlier. Colorado has nearly halved its teen birth rate in the past decade, to 23.4 per 1,000 teen girls. And a growing percentage of Coloradans have health insurance.

The Health Report Card also provides evidence where progress has stalled or reversed.

More Colorado children and teens are living in poverty today. The percentage of adults experiencing poor mental health has increased. Colorado is struggling to ensure that seniors receive immunizations, with the percentage declining to 52.8 today from a high of 62.2 in 2007.

Findings of the 2016 Health Report Card provide reasons to be optimistic about Colorado’s future. Both babies and children improved from C to C+. The percentage of infants getting immunized ticked up, reversing a three-year downward trend. And Colorado earned three #1 rankings in 2016 for teen sexual activity, adult obesity and senior physical activity.

Progress was uneven, however.

Many Coloradans, particularly those with lower incomes, continue to experience barriers to health. Just 38 percent of children from families with incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) had a medical home, compared with 66 percent of children from incomes above 400 percent FPL. Racial and ethnic disparities also persist. The infant mortality rate among black babies is more than double that of white babies.

Colorado can do better.

The 2016 Health Report Card highlights policies that promote health for all life stages. Family and medical leave, for example, may help working parents get their children needed well-child care visits. Making sugary drinks more expensive or removing them from public vending machines may decrease their consumption among adults. Advance care planning supports people of all ages, and their families, to learn about end-of-life care options and decide how they want to spend their final days. Colorado efforts in these policy areas are also featured.

You can download the 2016 data workbooks for detailed information about each indicator and to see the measures broken out by income, race and ethnicity and gender.

Let’s celebrate today how far we’ve come on the road to becoming the healthiest state and get back to work tomorrow making good health possible for all Coloradans. 

Sara Schmitt is the director of community health policy at CHI.