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Report: 'Affordable' a Relative Term for Health Coverage in CO

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April 30, 2009

Denver - A new report released yesterday finds many Colorado families who are paying for health insurance have had to give up other essentials to afford the coverage. The study by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy and Colorado Voices for Coverage comes from around a thousand surveys of low- and middle-income families performed at over 100 community budget workshops around the state.

Liz Feder, the Center's health policy analyst, authored the report. She says many families have had to cut back in order to pay for health coverage, something that can be especially worrisome for lower-income Coloradans.

"It can mean inadequate housing, not being able to maintain a vehicle in safe condition or even having to use substandard child care."

The report also finds that many Colorado families are trading savings to afford health insurance. Feder says savings and asset building are especially important for Coloradans on the lower rungs of the income ladder.

"It's their only opportunity to achieve economic security and move out of poverty."

Most families need to earn at least four to five times the national poverty level to afford health insurance, adds Feder.

"But, 25 percent of people are still going to need substantial assistance to be able to afford health care."

As the health care debate moves forward, Feder believes lawmakers must take note of how different and complicated each individual family's situation can be, and that just because a family pays for insurance doesn't mean it actually is affordable. Critics worry that implementing such a new health care system could be too expensive, but Feder says it's important to find a way to make it work, because the current system threatens the economic security of too many Coloradans.

Look for the report at www.cclponline.org.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO