Insurance gap spurs action
Survey: One in four residents forgo care
The Northwest Colorado Community Health Project has taken its first step in assessing area health care needs.
And new survey data raise concerns about access to local health care services, a project representative says.
Results of a two-county survey released this week indicated that 36 percent of the 556 respondents are without health insurance.
Twenty-six percent of survey respondents said they have gone without needed health care in the past six months, including some who said they had health insurance but could not afford the deductible or co-payment.
“We’re really studying deeply what we have and what we might be missing so we can determine how best to fill that gap,” said Suzi Mariano, public relations coordinator for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association. The VNA is coordinating the community health project, which was formed in April to address health care needs in Moffat and Routt counties. It has since expanded to include Rio Blanco and Jackson counties.
The project is specifically looking at the rising number of people without adequate access to health care.
Mariano said there’s not enough information yet to determine the exact direction of the project. It could end in the construction of a clinic, a change in local health care systems or a better referral process.
The process could help the group leverage federal funding — either for a new clinic or to help support existing clinics.
Determining the number of residents who lack health insurance is a needed piece of information, Mariano said.
The new survey provides that.
“It’s the one piece of data that we didn’t have,” Mariano said. “It’s a hard number to capture. People aren’t always clear on how they’re insured or whether they’re insured.”
Mariano said the new study indicated that the people really lacking in health care are the underinsured.
Forty-one percent of respondents said they were insured through a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid.
Cost was the primary reason cited in the survey for going without necessary health care, dental care or prescription medications. Even those respondents with employer-sponsored health insurance said the high premiums were a deterrent to participating in the plan or using it.
Another concern, Mariano said, is that 146 of those surveyed said they got to the hospital or doctor’s office by walking, taking a taxi or via public transportation.
The group will meet at noon March 29 at the Hayden Town Hall to discuss its next steps.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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