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Survey: Colorado One Of The Fastest Growing Medicaid Populations In U.S.

DENVER (CBS4) - More people than ever have health insurance in Colorado as a new survey found the uninsured rate in the state has dropped by more than half since the new federal health care law took effect.

In 2011 nearly 16 percent of Coloradans had no health insurance. That's been cut to 6.7 percent. But most of those newly insured are not getting their insurance on the state's health exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, but through Medicaid.

Approximately 450,000 more people have signed up in the last two years alone, bringing the number of Medicaid recipients in Colorado to 1.2 million. That makes Colorado one of the fastest growing Medicaid populations in the country.

The Colorado Health Institute, which conducted the survey, calls it a new day in Colorado with the uninsured population now at a historic low.

"We've spent so much money on Obamacare that I would hope some additional people had insurance. Unfortunately the figures suggest that they aren't getting insurance, they're getting Medicaid," said Linda Gorman with the Republican leaning Independence Institute.

Gorman says Obamacare is not doing what it promised to do. The survey found no net growth in people getting insurance on the individual market, and of those that did, only 40 percent bought it on the exchange set up by the state.

One in three Coloradans now have some type of government insurance with many of them being children. The number of children who are uninsured dropped from 7 percent two years ago to just 2.5 percent.

More people 19 to 29 years old are also getting insurance, although they remain among the highest number of uninsured at 13 percent.

Cost still is the biggest barrier, but the number of people filing for bankruptcy because of medical bills dropped from 104,000 in 2013 to 45,000 in 2015. Adam Fox with the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative -- which supports Obamacare -- says that's an indication it's protecting some of the most vulnerable.

"It shows that people with coverage -- while they may be delaying care, they may be facing cost-share problems, they're still protected from really high medical costs," Fox said.

Medicaid says the average cost of care for a Medicaid recipient has dropped 6 percent over the last couple years. But the survey found more people are having trouble accessing care. The state Legislature increased some reimbursement rates to help. Medicaid says that's lead to a 14 percent increase in doctors accepting Medicaid.

LINK: Connect For Health Colorado

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