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Press Release

United States of Care Report Explores Access to Culturally Responsive Care in Colorado 

Published On March 28, 2024

The report highlights policy recommendations on how to address a “one-size-fits-all” health care system

WASHINGTON — Today, United States of Care (USofCare) released a new report highlighting gaps in our health care system in providing care that is culturally responsive – or care that respects and takes into account all aspects of a patient’s identity and background. Complete with findings from a series of interviews and focus groups, this report details comprehensive policy solutions that can be taken by states across the country to improve access to care and champion health equity. 

The highly successful Colorado Option includes one of the first efforts to establish “culturally responsive” health care provider networks, which provide a strong framework to develop policies aimed at improving access to culturally responsive care. Still, the public option’s requirement for plans to be responsive to the unique needs of diverse Coloradans only impacts people enrolled in Colorado Option plans, and USofCare’s research found that many people in the state were still struggling to access care that is adequately culturally responsive. This indicates a need for both improvement and education. 

Among the findings: 

  • Patients have low expectations of our health care system, with an understanding that it does not need to be perfect – but they feel the status quo makes them feel disrespected; 
  • Patients have a desire to have their identity – whatever that may be – not impede their access to care and not be disregarded when receiving care; 
  • Implicit bias among health care providers, health insurance carriers, and other health care professionals, and a lack of understanding about unique population-based needs (such as gender-affirming care or technology accommodations) are negatively impacting patients’ experience in receiving care; 
  • There’s a lack of diversity in Colorado’s health care workforce and those that are able to practice in underserved and diverse communities face administrative burdens, high cost of living, low compensation, and high turnover; and 
  • A fragmented system, including a lack of standardization across data collection efforts and administrative requirements, leads to rushed appointments – and patients are left feeling burdened.

“The inclusion of culturally responsive provider networks as part of Colorado’s public option is a bold step forward in helping address the inequities in our health care system,” said Caitlin Westerson, Director of State External Affairs & Partnerships for United States of Care. “Yet, our new report shows us just how much work we have to do across the entire health system to continue expanding access to care that respects and takes into account peoples’ needs related to language access, sexual orientation, culture, disability, and experience with trauma. 

“If states really care about making health care accessible, then we need to talk about more than just affordability. States need to prioritize delivering care with cultural respect so people can access the care they need by providers with whom they feel safe,” said Westerson.

Included in the report are a series of policy recommendations for Colorado that other states can implement, including: 

  • Developing and training a culturally responsive health care workforce;
  • Advancing culturally responsive care through health insurance; 
  • Recruiting and retaining a diverse health care workforce; and
  • Addressing additional barriers to reduce gaps in access to culturally responsive care.

To read the full report, click here


United States of Care is a nonpartisan organization committed to ensuring that everyone has access to quality, affordable health care regardless of health status, social need, or income.

PRESS CONTACT: marí[email protected]