Report: Medicaid provides more access to health coverage for rural communities than metro areas across Colorado

Written by: Children's Campaign
Date Posted: June 12, 2017

A larger share of children in small towns and rural areas of Colorado rely on Medicaid to protect them from rising health care costs than those in metropolitan areas, according to a new report released today by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and the Rural Health Research Project of the University of North Carolina.

The report, “Medicaid in Small Town America: A Lifeline for Children, Families and Communities,” finds that 42 percent of children in rural areas and small towns in Colorado receive health coverage through Medicaid, compared to 35 percent in Colorado’s urban areas. For adults, 20 percent in non-metro areas are covered by Medicaid compared to 15 percent in metro areas.

“Medicaid provides critical access to life-saving treatment and protection from rising health care costs to many children and families living in small towns and rural America,” said Joan Alker, Executive Director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. “Cuts to Medicaid and other health care programs would take those protections away from many and risk financial ruin, denial of health care, or both.”

In Colorado, the impact of the Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act is clear for rural areas and small towns. The uninsured rate for adults in these areas dropped from 28 percent to 17 percent between 2008/2009 and 2014/2015. The uninsured rate for rural children dropped from 15 percent to 7 percent during that same time frame.

“When kids and families have health insurance, the entire community is strengthened,” said Sarah Barnes, Senior Policy Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “More access to care can mean fewer visits to the ER, less uncompensated care and more people getting—and staying—healthy. If Medicaid is cut, it will undermine the financial stability of rural hospitals and health care clinics that whole communities rely on for care.”

The report is primarily based on data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). The full report, along with interactive maps showing a county-by-county breakdown on health care coverage data, are available at: ccf.georgetown.edu.

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The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization committed since 1985 to realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. We advocate for the development and implementation of data-driven public policies that improve child wellbeing in health, education and early childhood. We do this by providing Coloradans with trusted data and research on child wellbeing and organizing an extensive state-wide network of dedicated child advocates. For more information, please visit www.coloradokids.org.