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Key Issues / Health Coverage and the Uninsured / Health Care Vision 2007 and Beyond: Colorado's Health Care Marketplace

Health Care Vision 2007 and Beyond: Colorado’s Health Care Marketplace

February 1, 2007

Much like the rest of the country, Colorado has grappled withsignificant medical cost inflation and double-digit increases in health insurance premiums.

The end resulthas been a commensurate increase in the ranks of the uninsured, attributable by experts to higher costs, but also Colorado’s shrinking small group insurance market and limits of public programs. Over the years, a variety of legislative and regulatory initiatives have been implemented to mitigate this decreasein access, although health care policy experts and opinion leaders are divided on whether the initiativeshave achieved desired results.

Clearly, efforts and debate over these new policies and programs have illustrated the complexities involved in trying to increase access and lower costs for health care in Colorado. As we move forwardin 2007 with a renewed focus on the current issues and how to resolve them, we must first better understand where we are now and how we got here.

Based on research conducted in early 2006 by the Colorado Health Institute (CHI), this paper provides an overview of changes in health care access and costs over a 16-year period, from 1990-2006. CHI staff interviewed 16 key individuals, including health policy experts and opinion leaders engaged in healthpolicy from various vantage points and sectors. In addition, CHI used a wide variety of primary andsecondary data sources including public documents covering the entire period as available.This paper examines four areas:

Trends in the private health care market

Small group insurance reforms

Impact of the tobacco settlement and Amendment 35

Colorado’s publicly-financed health programs

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