DENVER – March 19, 2015 – The Colorado Health Institute and Center for Health Progress today released the Colorado Access to Care Index, a first-ever measurement of whether Coloradans are able to get the health care they need when they need it.
The index is based on 30 data points divided into three components measuring:
- Potential Access: Whether Coloradans have adequate insurance coverage and enough local providers.
- Barriers to Care: The obstacles that make it difficult for Coloradans to get health care, even if they have insurance.
- Realized Access: Whether Coloradans are getting more preventive care and using fewer potentially avoidable hospitalizations and emergency department visits, an indication of increased access to adequate care.
Colorado’s overall score on this inaugural index is 7.7 of 10. The score for potential access is 7.4. The score for barriers to care is 8.9. And the score for realized access is 6.8. This suggests that many Coloradans get the care they need, but that there is plenty of room for improvement.
In addition to the statewide score, there are scores for each of the state’s 21 Health Statistics Regions as well as scores based on race and ethnicity as well as income.
Hispanic and black Coloradans trail white Coloradans on almost every measure of access to care. And rural areas lag behind urban areas.
Creating the Colorado Health Access Index reflects the fact that while more Coloradans have health insurance, the result of health reform efforts, it will be important to understand whether that translates to obtaining health care.
“Health policy discussions are moving from counting how many people have coverage to understanding whether people are getting the care they need,” said Jeff Bontrager, the Colorado Health Institute’s director of research on coverage and access. “We are progressing from tracking a process to measuring an outcome.”
“The first step in improving access to care in Colorado is understanding the current situation, which we’ve never been able to do in any comprehensive way before,” said Aubrey Hill, director of health systems change at Center for Health Progress. “This index will be an important tool for informing community conversations and driving more focused action.”
The index is designed to help communities across Colorado better understand and address the challenge of providing adequate health care.