This article about the state of healthcare and health insurance in Colorado is an interesting one, and it provides plenty of good, factual information. However, I was a bit perplexed by a quote from Dr. Ned Calonge, president and CEO of The Colorado Trust, who says “We’re reaching a tipping point where there will be more people who are uninsured than are insured.” This comes after some statistics that highlighted the decline in the number of Colorado residents who get health insurance from their employers: currently 57.8% of employers, compared with 63.7% two years ago.
I’m not really clear about the meaning of Dr. Calgone’s quote about a “tipping point”. I am not in any way minimizing the importance of increasing the number of people in Colorado who have health insurance and improving access to healthcare for everyone. Those are certainly the goals we should be working towards. But we are in no way close to a point where Colorado will have more uninsured people than insured people. The state currently has a population of 5.1 million people. Although the number of uninsured people in Colorado is quite high (829,000), it’s nowhere near half of the population. Colorado isn’t close to having more uninsured people than people with health insurance.
I wonder if the distinction was regarding the number of people who get their health insurance from an employer? If the current trends continue, we could indeed see a point in the near future when the number of people who get their health insurance from an employer will be lower than the number who don’t. But it’s important to keep in mind that the people who don’t get health insurance from an employer are not necessarily uninsured. In fact, most of them have health insurance. Some get it from the government (eg. Medicare, Medicaid, CHP+) and some purchase individual policies. The article I linked to above includes a graph that shows where people in Colorado get their health insurance, and although it’s true that the percentage of uninsured residents increased while the percentage of people who get their health insurance from an employer decreased, we should also note that the percentage of people with individual health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid all increased in that same time frame (2009 to 2011).
So although Colorado has a long way to go in terms of having everyone with covered by health insurance, but we’re not close to a point where the uninsureds outnumber those with health insurance.