County’s uninsured rate cut by two-thirds in four years.
Medicaid expansion provided care, covered cost in “awful situation”
Gerry Emmerich and his wife both work and had health insurance. Hers was through Kaiser, and he had a policy purchased in the marketplace.
When she got pregnant, they qualified as a family for Colorado’s Medicaid expansion. In 2015-2016, the average monthly enrollment for Medicaid in Boulder County was 52,000 people. Nearly 20,000 of them received coverage under the Medicaid expansion.
Turmoil in insurance markets leaves kidney donor worried
Kate LaCroix donated a kidney in 2016, feeling safe in the knowledge that pre-existing conditions were covered by her health insurance under Obamacare.
LaCroix, who lives in Boulder, owns her own integrated marketing business, Kontently, and purchased health care for herself and her family in the Affordable Care Act marketplace.
While the premiums on her policy are relatively expensive, the ACA allowed her to have her own business with the assurance that a health crisis wouldn’t cause a terrible financial hardship and that pre-existing conditions would be covered.
YOUR COMMUNITY FOUNDATION –
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Expanding healthcare access through collaboration
In the ever-changing healthcare environment, the Community Foundation catalyzes action locally. Specifically, the Boulder County Health Improvement Collaborative (BCHIC) aims to improve health outcomes among our community’s most vulnerable adults by recruiting specialists willing to treat Medicaid and uninsured patients, and by streamlining the referral system for providers and care coordinators. BCHIC’s strategy includes building a community-owned referral database that addresses many of the barriers identified by specialists in seeing underinsured patients.
“We convene and facilitate dialogue among health leaders – patient advocates, physicians, healthcare administrators, safetynet providers, hospitals, and public health and human services leaders,” said Morgan McMillan, who spearheads the initiative. “And with support from the Colorado Health Foundation and our local hospitals, we’re ramping up recruitment of participating practices, and piloting a referral database. Over the next three years, we hope to expand our pilot to include at least 10 specialty areas, and extend access to more than 500 Boulder County residents in need of care.”
Initially, BCHIC emphasizes the following specialty areas: orthopedics, dermatology, oncology, gastroenterology and endocrinology. “The data says these areas are in greatest demand, and have tremendous potential for high impact on patients and our community,” McMillan said. “We believe we can meet much of our community’s unmet needs with broad and evenly-distributed provider participation.”
Yes, there’s childhood obesity in Boulder County
If you look around at many of the adults in Boulder County, it makes sense that statistics show Colorado is the least obese state in the country. But the numbers on children who are overweight and obese in Colorado paint a different picture.
Nearly a quarter of Boulder County children, 24 percent to be precise, are overweight or obese. “We’re lowest (in obesity) for adults, but not for children and adolescents. We’re mid-pack when it comes to that,” said Bonnie Jortberg, an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Challenges remain for LGBTQ teens
Being a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer kid isn’t getting any easier. While Boulder County has a reputation for openness to LGBTQ concerns, numbers from recent surveys in both school districts indicate that such students are:
More than two times more likely to report feeling sad or hopeless
More than three times more likely to consider suicide
“Look at these numbers. It’s like a house on fire,” said Mardi Moore, Executive Director of Out Boulder County.
Blazing a trail by being herself
Meet Shannon Axe and here’s what you’ll see: a confident, open young woman. Bright, funny and eager to get through the last couple of years of high school and out into the wider world.
What you won’t see is what the doctor who delivered Shannon saw: a boy. A boy in the way our society sees gender – genitalia first.
From a young age, Shannon knew better.
“Inside my heart, I knew it wasn’t right, I’m a girl. I’ve always been a girl,” she said.
A preventive approach to alcohol and hopelessness in BVSD
Alcohol remains the largest substance abuse problem amongst high school students in the Boulder Valley School District. The 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado survey found that 38 percent of high schoolers had at least one drink in the past 30 days, compared to 30 percent across Colorado.
Alcohol also remains the first substance Boulder Valley students tend to try, with 12 percent having consumed alcohol before age 13. By that early age, 4 percent have smoked marijuana, 3 percent have smoked a cigarette, and 2 percent have had sex, according to survey respondents.
Teen pregnancies reduced by half
Boulder County clinic served as pilot for teen pregnancy reduction program
In 2007, Susan Buchanan, Executive Director and CEO of Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center, was presented with an opportunity that would gladden the heart of many a nonprofit executive.
“When we initially got involved in the planning, the question from the funder was: ‘If money were no object, what would you do to expand access to marginalized populations?’” Buchanan said. “It was like every executive director’s dream. We got to dream big, think outside the box.”
Addiction to heroin, prescription opioids is here
Boulder County has not been immune to the national increase in opioid abuse and addiction.
On average, 30 Boulder County residents die each year of accidental opioid overdose. Prescription drug overdose death rates are highest in Longmont, while heroin overdose death rates are highest in southeast Boulder County, which includes Lafayette, Louisville and Superior.
“We’re hearing of a lot of people taking a shift from prescription drugs to heroin,” said Jamie Feld, an epidemiologist with Boulder County Public Health.
Getting hooked, getting clean
Colt Smith calls it a pause button.
It’s the feeling of relief he experienced when a doctor prescribed opioid pain relievers after knee surgery when he was in the 10th grade.
“I have this really weird ability to feel very alone even if I’m surrounded by friends. It just takes so much work, time and effort to connect with someone,” he said. “I have these weird racing thoughts, fears, anxiety. I don’t know what it’s supposed to tell me, what I’m supposed to learn.”
WHAT CAN I DO?
Health care coverage for lower-income people more than doubled after The Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” took effect, although Latinos and those without a high school education still lagged behind.