Colorado Health Institute survey reveals how mountain communities were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – Summit Daily News

Volunteers at the Family & Intercultural Resource Center stock shelves at the organization’s food pantry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Priscilla Balderas/Family & Intercultural Resource Center

By now, most individuals probably know how their lives and health have changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Colorado Health Institute’s health access survey for 2021 puts those changes in black and white.

The report’s findings were rolled out during a webinar Wednesday, Oct. 27. Jeff Bontrager, director of research and evaluation for the institute, said this year’s survey garnered much more interest compared to surveys in previous years.

According to Bontrager, close to 10,500 Colorado households filled out this year’s survey, which was live from February through June and was available in English and Spanish. The organization contracted NORC, an independent social research organization at the University of Chicago, to choose Colorado addresses at random, and those residents filled out the survey online or over the phone.

The survey’s findings were divided up into 10 focus areas for the state, and the state was divided up into various geographic areas, too.

One of the most notable findings for the Interstate 70 mountain corridor was related to insurance coverage.

During the webinar, Bontrager said the state’s Medicaid program, also known as Health First Colorado, kept individuals across the state covered during the pandemic.

“Between 2019 to 2021, we saw a significant increase in the percentage and number of Coloradans who were covered through Health First Colorado,” he said.

The report states that in 2019, nearly 19% of the state’s population was insured through Medicaid but that 2021 saw a jump. This year, the survey found that nearly 25% of the state’s population was insured through Medicaid, the largest jump since 2009. That means one in four Coloradans are insured through Medicaid.

“What we think is happening here is the fact that during the federally declared public health emergency, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people stayed on Medicaid coverage because states were required to keep people enrolled … regardless if their eligibility changed during that time period,” Bontrager said.

For the mountain corridor, the jump was nearly proportional. The organization’s geographic profile reported …….


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