Study suggests 1.35M in Colo could be underinsured |

Study suggests 1.35M in Colo could be underinsured

AURORA, Colorado ” More than a third of the patients who went to 37 primary-care health clinics across Colorado on a single day were uninsured, researchers said Monday, suggesting that at least 1.35 million people statewide could be in the same dilemma.

The voluntary survey was conducted by the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine among patients who had private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare. It showed 36.3 percent of the 948 respondents with insurance for a full year were underinsured.

Researchers defined patients as underinsured if they reported delaying or skipping recommended care because they couldn’t afford it.

“If patients in the state happened to be similar to our study population, then there could be at least 1.35 million underinsured patients in Colorado on top of the 770,000 uninsured or about 2.1 million who are either uninsured or underinsured,” said Kenton Voorhees, associate professor of family medicine at the school and principal investigator of the study.

The study was published in the August edition of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

The school said patients who completed the survey tended to be between ages 18 and 64, white, and privately insured. More than half reported they were in good to excellent health.

Nearly 1,260 surveys were distributed to people who had insurance, and 1,133 were returned. The surveys were offered in English and Spanish.

Of the underinsured patients, 19.2 percent had Medicare and 32.6 percent had Medicaid.

The estimate of the underinsured was higher than the estimated rate of 4.5 percent in Colorado in 1995, but earlier studies defined people as underinsured using financial criteria instead of asking whether patients deferred or omitted care because of concerns of whether they could afford it, the study said.

The authors said merely increasing access to insurance is not enough to solve the nation’s health care crisis. “Affordable health care is what’s needed,” Voorhees said.

The study looked only at patients who went to an office to see a health care provider and did not include anyone who avoided the doctor’s office due to costs.

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