The Uninsured Population in Colorado: Three-Year Estimates from the American Community Survey

For the first time, Colorado has a three-year estimate of the number of Coloradans who don’t have health insurance.

The Census Bureau has just released its findings from the 2008-10 American Community Survey (ACS) three-year estimates. Beginning in 2008, the ACS questionnaire included new questions on health insurance, making it the first three-year dataset to include the health insurance content. This is important because combining three years worth of survey data increases the sample size, helping to improve uninsured estimates for geographies (such as counties) with smaller populations. The estimates are available for the nation, all states, every congressional district, every metropolitan area, and counties and places with populations of 20,000 or more, which include 25 of Colorado’s 64 counties.

What we learned from this new source is that Colorado’s three-year estimate of the average percentage of uninsured is 15.8 percent or about 773,000 of the nearly 4.9 million non-institutionalized civilians in our state.  Of the 25 counties with a population of 65,000 or more, Douglas County had the lowest uninsured percentage at 5.5 percent and Garfield County had the highest at 31.5 percent. These findings are consistent with previous analysis done by the Colorado Health Institute (CHI).

Here is a map displaying the percentage of uninsured individuals in each of the 25 counties:

These three-year estimates join a number of other health insurance estimates from the Census Bureau. The 2010 Current Population Survey (CPS) estimates available for the nation and all states were released on September 13. The 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) estimates available for the nation, all states, and counties with populations of 65,000 or more were released on September 23. The 2008 and 2009 Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE) available for the nation, all states, and every county in the nation were released October 13. Finally, the 2011 Colorado Household Survey (a new name will be unveiled soon by The Colorado Trust when it is unveiled later this year) will include estimates of the uninsured for Colorado and the 21 health statistics regions as well as detailed information on health access and usage.

The 2008-2010 ACS three-year estimates provide uninsured numbers and percentages for an additional 14 counties that we did not have previously. In two  years, the 2008-2012 ACS Five-Year Estimates will provide uninsured estimates for all counties in Colorado.

If you’d like to review the three-year estimates, click here.

Rebecca Silvernale is a senior data analyst at CHI.