At Colorado Health Insurance Insider, we have written many times about the number of uninsured Coloradoans. Turns out that there are a lot more people in that group than most estimates show. The US Census Bureau estimates that there are 758,800 people in Colorado without health insurance (this is the number that we typically see quoted). The Lewin Group has said that the number of uninsured Coloradoans is only 562,800. That figure is based on the number of people who went without health insurance for a full year between 2005 and 2007. According to the US Census Bureau, the Colorado population is 4,753,377(in 2006), so the Lewin Group’s numbers would indicate that only 11.8% of the population is uninsured – not great, but not terrible either.
But that really doesn’t tell the whole story. Say a person is uninsured for three months and during that time has a heart attack. She would not be counted as uninsured according to the Lewin Group estimates, but her medical bills would become part of the overall problem that is plaguing the US health care system.
It makes more sense to count the number of people who go uninsured for any amount of time, since health insurance is designed to protect against the unexpected, and by definition we never know when the unexpected will occur. When this measure is used, the number of uninsureds in Colorado rises to 1.4 million people who were uninsured for at least a portion of 2006-2007. That’s nearly a third of the state’s population, and it paints a much darker picture of our insurance situation.