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Community Health Survey Finds Increase in Access to Health Insurance Under ACA (July 2017)

Survey results show that residents of Larimer County have seen dramatic gains in health insurance coverage since 2013. The survey from the Health District of Northern Larimer County also finds that many residents have experienced fewer struggles with medical bills and debt collectors, put off fewer visits to mental health providers, and filled prescriptions that previously might have gone unfilled due to cost.

The findings are part of the Community Health Survey, a large, scientifically designed study the Health District has conducted every three years since 1995. Results help the Health District and other local organizations gauge the community's health and track changes in healthcare access over time. The most recent survey of 2,279 randomly selected adult residents of Larimer County took place in the fall of 2016.

In 2016, 4 percent of local adults ages 18-64 reported having no health insurance, down markedly from 12 percent three years earlier. The number of people who were uninsured for long periods of time -- seven months or more -- also decreased significantly, from 17 percent in 2013 to 6 percent in 2016. Those with the lowest income (138 percent or less of the federal poverty level) saw the steepest drops with 6 percent uninsured for longer than seven months in 2016, down from 47 percent three years earlier.

The survey showed improved access to a variety of health services. The number of local residents reporting no insurance for prescriptions dropped from 14 percent to 7 percent. Among those with the lowest incomes, there was a steep decrease in the number of people who were said they were unable to fill a prescription due to cost (27 percent to 12 percent).

Residents whose incomes were at or just above poverty were less likely to delay getting mental health care. The number of people who put off visiting a mental health provider due to cost declined significantly, from 49 percent to 19 percent.

Gains in coverage had wide-ranging impacts on people's personal and financial well-being. Those who reported having medical bills they couldn't pay right away and had to pay over time declined from 31 percent in 2013 to 28 percent in 2016. Residents least able to pay for medical care got a reprieve from debt collectors as the number of people at or just above poverty who had been sent to collections for unpaid medical bills decreased from 22 percent to 15 percent.

The 2016 Community Health Survey was a random-sample survey of 2,279 adult residents of Larimer County. A more detailed summary of recent survey findings related to coverage gains can be found on the Health District website. For more information on the Community Health Survey, contact Richard Cox at the Health District at 970-224-5209, rcox@healthdistrict.org.

The Health District is a public agency that provides residents of northern Larimer County with dental, mental health, and preventive health services, in addition to connecting people to more affordable prescription and health insurance options.
 
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