Colorado Families Cutting Budgets To Afford Health Insurance, Study Finds
Many Colorado families with incomes of less than 500% of the poverty level often stop saving for or spending on necessities -- such as education, housing and child care -- so that they can afford health insurance, according to a report released Wednesday by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, the Denver Post reports. For the study, researchers analyzed budget worksheets completed by about 1,000 Colorado families with incomes of less than 500% of the poverty level.
The study found that of the families surveyed, 25% of those with annual incomes of less than $84,000 spend more money than they make. According to the study, when families spend more than 5% of their annual income on health insurance, they might cut back spending on heat, child care services or housing, lead study author Liz Feder said. In addition, many families stop saving money to pay for health coverage, meaning that they would not be able to sustain their lifestyle if they were laid off or be able to pay for higher education to advance their careers, the report found.
According to Denise de Percin, executive director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, the report provides context for lawmakers considering health care reform legislation. The study authors said that policymakers should consider how a coverage mandate might affect families' budget choices, and suggest that coverage subsidies should be based on income, as well as child care costs, student loans and transportation costs for rural residents (Brown, Denver Post, 4/30).
The report is available online (.pdf).