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Poll: Expense Tops Coloradans' Health-Care Concerns

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Eric Galatas

(Colorado News Connection) Coloradans increasingly are concerned about rising health-care costs, according to a new poll. It found many Colorado families are struggling to pay bills even if they have insurance, and that cost burdens disproportionately are affecting communities of color.

When pollsters asked what word comes to mind when they think of health care, said Chris Keating, president of Keating Research, the group that produced the survey for the group Consumers for Quality Care, most respondents said, "Expensive."

"One in four Coloradans currently have an unpaid or overdue medical bill that they are struggling to pay off," he said. "It's a burden. Among Latinos in Colorado, nearly half say they have an unpaid medical bill."

Seventy-five percent of the Colorado voters surveyed said the cost of health care continues to rise each year, with out-of-pocket costs - such as deductibles, premiums and copays - major barriers to accessing care. Across party lines, a majority also supports recent state legislation designed to rein in rising costs. The Colorado Standard Health Benefit Plan Act would create a public health-insurance option if the industry fails to meet cost-reduction targets.

The polling, also done in other states, showed that the pandemic has had a significant impact on how voters view the nation's health-care system. Jim Manley, a board member at Consumers for Quality Care, said polls in the last year indicated more than eight in 10 Americans believe COVID-19 has exposed flaws in the health-care system. 

"Obviously, the pandemic is driving a lot of health-care-related issues," he said, "but I think it's pretty clear that especially in the wake of the COVID pandemic, voters want to make sure that their insurance is affordable and protects them, especially if they have preexisting conditions."

Manley said voters nationally were more concerned with health-care costs than costs related to child care, higher education, housing and retirement. National polls also showed strong support for elected officials to keep insurance deductibles low enough so they don't get in the way of receiving quality care. Nine out of 10 polled Colorado voters agreed.