CHI estimates that 510,000 Coloradans – nearly one of every 10 residents – will become newly insured under federal health reform’s Affordable Care Act between 2014 and 2016. CHI predicts that Colorado will need an additional 83 to 141 primary care providers for the newly insured. This breaks down to a need for between 71 and 117 additional primary care physicians and between 12 and 24 additional nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
While this need may be more manageable than some had anticipated, it should be noted that a number of areas in Colorado already struggle with attracting primary care providers. Adding even a small number of doctors and nurses for these areas will most likely become a greater challenge after a half million Coloradans get their insurance cards. It should also be remembered that there are other factors affecting Colorado’s ability to attract and retain primary care providers, including an aging population, an aging provider workforce, more medical students choosing specialty care rather than primary care and the rural and frontier nature of a good deal of Colorado.
The CHI study focuses on policy implications surrounding the state’s health care workforce. The report includes regional and county profiles that break down the anticipated workforce need by geographic area.