Colorado Is One of the Healthiest States in the Country, But Also One of the Costliest
Please join us Thursday, July 22nd at 11:30 am MDT for a presentation and panel discussion with David Blumenthal, MD, MPP, Sara R. Collins, Ph.D., and Lovisa Gustafsson, MBA, of the Commonwealth Fund.
The Commonwealth Fund’s annual Scorecard on State Health System Performance assesses all 50 states and the District of Columbia on 49 measures of access to health care, quality of care, cost of care, health outcomes, and income-based health care disparities. Overall, Colorado is one of the highest ranked states (#6), ranking particularly high on measures of avoidable hospital use, health outcomes, and prevention.
High and variable health care prices are the major drivers of health care spending in the United States and Colorado has some of the highest costs in the country. Most discussions about this problem focus on federal policy solutions or private negotiations between insurers, providers, and manufacturers. However, states occupy several roles in providing health care and coverage for their constituents. States are leveraging their roles as purchasers of insurance for state employees and retirees, regulators of private insurance, and administrators and financers of public programs to experiment with curbing high health care prices and spending.
For this presentation, David Blumenthal will introduce the speakers and moderate the discussion. Sara Collins will review how Colorado ranks on various parameters covered in the Commonwealth Fund’s Annual Scorecard. Later, Lovisa Gustafsson will discuss promising state approaches to cost containment.
Some more details about Colorado:
- The state has low rates of visits to the emergency department and hospital admissions for conditions that could be treated in ambulatory settings. It also has low rates of 30-day hospital readmissions.
- Colorado has the lowest adult obesity rate in the country, one of the lowest rates of overweight children, and one of the lowest infant mortality rates.
- Colorado is the 4th ranked state on deaths from preventable causes and the 4th ranked state on death from colorectal cancer.
- Colorado also ranks high on timely access to mental health care for both children and adults.
- But Colorado has among the highest rates of deaths from suicide and alcohol use.
Colorado performs lower than average on hospital prices, premiums, and patient out-of-pocket costs.
- Colorado employers and commercial insurers face among the highest inpatient hospital prices in the nation relative to what Medicare pays. Prices are more 223 percent of Medicare prices in the state, the 11th highest. But close-by western states Utah, Kansas, and Idaho also have commercial prices that are 200 percent or higher of what Medicare pays.
- These prices help drive higher employer insurance premiums in the state relative to other states. The state has an above average percentage of nonelderly adults with high-out-of-pocket health care costs relative to their annual household income. And there is a significant disparity between low and high income adults who have high out-of-pocket costs relative to their income.
- Colorado is one of the healthiest states in the country but one of the more costly states for the under-65 population. It has high rates of deaths from suicide and alcohol use.
- Trends in state activities to control healthcare spending
- Examples of efforts underway in Colorado
About Our Presenters
David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P., is president of the Commonwealth Fund, a national philanthropy engaged in independent research on health and social policy issues.
Dr. Blumenthal is formerly the Samuel O. Thier Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief Health Information and Innovation Officer at Partners Healthcare System in Boston (now Mass General Brigham). From 2009 to 2011, he served as the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, with the charge to build an interoperable, private, and secure nationwide health information system and to support the widespread, meaningful use of health IT. He succeeded in putting in place one of the largest publicly funded infrastructure investments the nation has ever made in such a short time period, in health care or any other field.
Previously, Dr. Blumenthal was a practicing primary care physician, director of the Institute for Health Policy, and professor of medicine and health policy at Massachusetts General Hospital/Partners Healthcare System and Harvard Medical School. He is the author of more than 300 scholarly publications and books, including Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and serves on a number of boards, including the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, The Carol Emmott Foundation, and the editorial board of the New England Journal of Medicine.
He has also served on the staff of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research, and is the founding chairman of AcademyHealth, the national organization of health services researchers.
Sara R. Collins, Ph.D., is vice president for health care coverage and access at The Commonwealth Fund. An economist, Dr. Collins directs the Fund’s program on insurance coverage and access. She also directs the Fund’s research initiative on Tracking Health System Performance. Since joining the Fund in 2002, Dr. Collins has led several multi-year national surveys on health insurance and authored numerous reports, issue briefs and journal articles on health insurance coverage, health reform, and the Affordable Care Act.
She has provided invited testimony before several Congressional committees and subcommittees. Prior to joining the Fund, Dr. Collins was associate director/senior research associate at the New York Academy of Medicine, Division of Health and Science Policy. Earlier in her career, she was an associate editor at U.S. News & World Report, a senior economist at Health Economics Research, and a senior health policy analyst in the New York City Office of the Public Advocate.
She holds an A.B. in economics from Washington University and a Ph.D. in economics from George Washington University.
Lovisa Gustafsson, M.B.A., is vice president of the Controlling Health Care Costs program at the Commonwealth Fund. She joined the Fund in 2016 as the program officer for Breakthrough Health Care Opportunities and was promoted to assistant vice president in July 2018. Prior to joining the Fund, Ms. Gustafsson served as senior vice president for the Marwood Group, a health care advisory organization, where she managed various outsourced private equity due diligence and strategy consulting engagements.
Before her role at the Marwood Group, she worked as a manager in corporate strategy and business development at McKesson, a senior consulting associate in quality and operations support for Kaiser Permanente, a senior policy analyst at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Office of Medicaid, and a manager at Avalere Health LLC.
Ms. Gustafsson earned an M.B.A. in health care management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in sociology from Harvard University.