Health Advocates and Consumers Support a Colorado Health Insurance Option that Reduces Costs and Expands Access to Care.
DENVER, CO: Today, Governor Polis announced during his third State of the State address that his administration and both legislative chambers are ready to pass a Colorado Health Insurance Option. This pandemic has showcased the failures of Colorado’s health care system, leaving many without coverage after unprecedented job loss and straining the state’s safety net programs. Governor Polis declared that working Coloradans, people of all races and incomes, and small businesses do not have time to wait for long term, sustainable reform so everyone can seek care when they need it.
“Too many families still struggle to afford the care they need, and we look forward to working with this legislature on measures to save people money on health care,” stated Governor Jared Polis. “….And we also look forward to adding an affordable Colorado Option that gives Coloradans, especially in rural areas more choice and savings when it comes to selecting a health care plan.”
Even before the pandemic, 1 in 5 Coloradans struggled to afford their health care costs or went without care altogether. There are still 1 in 6 Colorado Counties that only have one insurance provider in the individual market. The bottom line is, Coloradans feel they are paying too much for their health insurance, and the State must take action to reduce those costs for consumers.
“In the middle of the worst public health crisis we’ve ever seen, expanding affordable and accessible health care options is exactly what we should be doing,” said Dr. Chet Cedars, a retired family medicine doctor from Lone Tree. “Anyone who says that now isn’t the right time has clearly never treated patients who couldn’t afford the treatments they desperately needed and ended up in the hospital with crushing medical debt – or worse.”
An affordable health care option will provide patients and their families the security and freedom to take control of their health without breaking the bank. Bringing health care costs down will help Colorado families who worry about how they’ll pay for a needed procedure or visit. Especially during a pandemic, it’s critical that Colorado take the necessary steps to ensure everyone, including people of all races and incomes, have access to the care they need to live healthy lives.
“Too many Coloradans, especially people of color and those living in rural areas, are struggling to afford the health coverage and care they need to stay healthy,” said Adam Fox, deputy director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “The pandemic has only made things worse and threatened more Coloradans’ health and financial security. The Colorado Option is a long-term solution to bring more affordable health coverage in reach of Coloradans that have been left out and ensure we can all take care of our health.”
BIPOC Coloradans have higher rates of uninsurance and 89% of Coloradans who are uninsured say the cost of coverage is the primary barrier. They are also more likely to face medical debt and medical debt in collections. The Colorado Health Insurance Option proposal will provide more affordable plans, helping more BIPOC Coloradans obtain coverage, avoid crushing medical bills, and pay significantly lower out-of-pocket costs.
“The health care system has not and will not become more affordable on its own,” said Healthier Colorado executive director Jake Williams. “We need to innovate by offering Coloradans a quality, affordable public option for health insurance. The status quo is failing too many people.”
A Healthier Colorado survey of 1,008 Colorado voters found that 66% support a proposal that would allow the healthcare industry to work together to lower costs first, then start the process of creating a Colorado Health Insurance Option if the healthcare industry cannot achieve cheaper care for families and businesses.
Healthier Colorado is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that believes every Coloradan should have a fair chance at living a healthy life.
Colorado Consumer Health Initiative is a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that represents health care consumers and advocates for equitable access to high-quality, affordable health care. In 2018, CCHI received the “Get Wise” Consumer Protection award from the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).