A relatively new website – Project Health Colorado – is drawing visitors from all across the state who wish to share their ideas about healthcare and healthcare reform in Colorado. The project is funded byThe Colorado Trust, and has several prominent partners who share the goal of access to healthcare for everyone in Colorado. You can read more about the goals and vision of the project in this editorialwritten by Christie McElhinney, The Colorado Trust’s VP of Communications and Public Affairs.
The homepage of Project Health Colorado has five questions that visitors which visitors can answer with a simple yes or no. Overwhelmingly, the current responses indicate that people are not particularly satisfied with the healthcare system. The first question asks “Is healthcare in Colorado working?” and 71% of the respondents have answered “no.” 71% of respondents have also answered “yes” to the question about whether they’ve ever had to choose between healthcare and other needs.
In addition to asking people what they think of the current healthcare system, the website also has a page where visitors can suggest suggestions for fixing the healthcare system. The suggestions that have been posted so far run the gamut from single payer healthcare to completely free market healthcare with no government involvement at all. Some people suggest an increase in individual responsibility (for example, requiring people who are overweight or who smoke to pay more for their healthcare) while others advocate a more collective system where everyone receives healthcare and tax dollars are used to fund it. The suggestions mirror a lot of the very diverse opinions that have been offered all across the country over the past few years as healthcare reform has taken center stage in our political system.
I agree with The Colorado Trust and their partners on this project that access to healthcare for everyone in Colorado is an excellent goal. Health insurance for the uninsured population and affordable healthcare for everyone are vitally important in order to improve the overall health and security of the people of Colorado. However, I can’t help but notice that the questions on the Project Health Colorado homepage are a bit leading, and perhaps biased towards getting simple answers that highlight a desire to have better healthcare without enough focus on the costs of achieving those goals. There is no question asking people if they’d be willing to pay higher health insurance premiums in order to help insure the more than 800,000 people in Colorado who are currently uninsured. There is a question asking whether every child should have health insurance, but no follow-up question asking the respondents if they’d be ok with higher payroll taxes to help fund the coverage. There is a question asking respondents if Medicare covers all of their healthcare needs (79% have answered “no”), but no question asking people if they’d be satisfied with more comprehensive Medicare coverage in exchange for longer wait times to see a doctor for non-emergency care (these are just some ideas off the top of my head, but you get the idea).
I love the concept of the Project Health Colorado website. A forum for people to share ideas about healthcare – specific to our state, rather than on a national level – is a great resource. And even if the Supreme Court strikes down all or part of the ACA later this month, Colorado appears poised to continue to push forward with its own healthcare reform efforts at a state level. That means that the ideas and support of the Colorado population would be vital for creating a system that works here. I think that Project Health Colorado is a great way to get people involved in understanding the problems and finding solutions. My only suggestion would be that the site could be a bit more balanced in terms of asking questions that address people’s needs and desires, but along with their willingness to compromise and/or fund solutions.