Ski Mecca Counties Short on Primary Care Providers, Study Finds

A new survey by the Colorado Health Institute found that the ski mecca counties of Eagle, Pitkin, Summit and Grand are among locales in the state with a shortage of primary care doctors.

Those counties and others need to boost their rosters of primary care physicians by 30 percent if they’re going to meet the needs of their population, according to the institute’s analysis.The analysis used a benchmark of 1,900 people for every full-time doctor.

Map showing the ratio of population to full-time , primary care physicians in Colorado.

Colorado Health Institute

Map showing the ratio of population to full-time , primary care physicians in Colorado.

The mountain resort regions weren’t the only ones that fell short of this standard. The worst-off region includes the counties of Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson and Lincoln, which need to triple their doctors to meet the need. Even urban areas like El Paso and Douglas counties have shortages.

Rebecca Alderfer, the study’s lead author, said that at the root of this study were questions about what additional medical workforce would be needed as more Coloradans gain insurance. This was an attempt to gauge the current conditions across the state, with apples-to- apples comparisons of full-time physicians across counties.

Rebecca AlderferRebecca Alderfer

Colorado Health Institute also looked at Medicaid capacity across the state, and found shortages in the number of doctors willing to take the public insurance. Denver, Adams and Arapahoe counties were among the places with a shortage of Medicaid providers.

And speaking of gaining insurance, some of the same counties with doctor shortages also have the costliest insurance premiums. At $483 a month for the cheapest silver plan offered on the state exchange, the mountain resort region has the most expensive insurance rate in the nation, according to a recent analysis by Kaiser Health News.


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