Nov 292011
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Health coverage in Larimer County has become more rare over the past two years, with a growing number of residents lacking insurance.

The Colorado Health Access Survey –– a study sponsored by The Colorado Trust and administered by the Colorado Health Institute –– released its findings Nov. 16, highlighting that 46,987, or one in three, local residents go without health insurance.

Approximately 20 percent of university students nationwide do not have coverage either.

More than 1.5 million Coloradans –– or one in six within the state –– have either no health care coverage at all, or their health insurance does not adequately cover the costs of medically necessary services relative to family income.

The figure has increased by 20 percent over the past two years.

“The weak economy, lingering unemployment and the increasing cost of health insurance combined make health insurance inaccessible to many Coloradans,” said Ned Calonge, president and CEO of The Colorado Trust, a statewide grant-making foundation that looks to advance access to health.

Within Larimer County, 85 percent of individuals without health insurance said they couldn’t afford it. Approximately 30 percent said they were in such dire financial straits because of job loss.

Part of the problem, said Jane Viste, a public information officer for the Larimer County Health Department, is that some may not be aware of resources in the community that exist to help the uninsured.

With “people who are suddenly laid off,” she said, the issue is that they don’t know how to enroll in programs designed for people in their situation because they’ve never had to.

The consequences of such a scenario could be devastating to the individual and the community in which he or she resides.

“Without health insurance, people tend not to get illnesses treated or looked at,” Viste said. “They may forgo very important preventive care, or they may forgo getting treated for an illness that could be taken care of.… When you look at issues with very young children or babies, they may not be getting their immunizations.”

But when health concerns are too great to ignore, people may end up using a hospital emergency room to address their needs.

“Emergency rooms often have to write that off,” Viste said, describing the cost burden the health care system faces when treating the uninsured. “They can’t get paid for it. That often puts a lot of stress on emergency rooms.”

CSU Health Services did not respond to requests for comment.

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at

Percent of people under 19 years of age, at or below the poverty line, without health insurance.

1. Texas 11.4
2. Arizona 11.2
3. Florida 11.0
4. New Mexico 10.4
5. Nevada 10.4
6. South Carolina 8.3
7. Mississippi 8.1
8. Oregon 7.5
9. Georgia 7.5
10. North Carolina 7.2
11. California 7.0
12. Montana 6.5
13. Colorado 6.5

United States 6.5

*2010 Census Bureau

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