Colorado’s under-insured may outnumber uninsured

There are the haves, the have-nots and a whole lot of the have-some-but-not-enoughs when it comes to health insurance, according to a new University of Colorado study.

More than one-third of patients seen in Colorado’s primary care clinics are under-insured and can not afford recommended health care, the study concluded. Researchers asked 1,133 patients at 37 primary care practices to fill out a survey about their insurance coverage over the past year.

If applied statewide, that percentage indicates there are 1.35 million under-insured Colorado patients, on top of the state’s 770,000 uninsured residents, said Kenton Voorhees, associate professor of family medicine at the CU Denver School of Medicine and principal investigator of the study.

“Coverage doesn’t necessarily equal access,” Voorhees said. “Affordable health care is what’s needed.”

And the news gets worse. 

The CU researches are pretty sure their study actually under-represents the under-insured because it only looked at patients willing to come to doctors’ offices and didn’t take into account potential patients scared away by the cost of seeking medical care.

The study paper, “Underinsurance in Primary Care: A Report from the State Networks of Colorado Ambulatory Practices and Partners (SNOCAP)” is published in the August edition of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, according to CU spokeswoman Tonya Ewers.

Ewers said the study focused on identifying the scope of under-insured patients rather than finding a solution, which will require more work.

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