The California Health Care Foundation’s (CHCF) newly-released findings report from their 2022 health policy survey revealed important data regarding health equity, health care affordability, and the health policy priorities of Californians for the upcoming year. The statewide survey was conducted by CHCF and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago in late 2021.
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The survey asked Californians about their top health policy priorities for Gov. Gavin Newsom and the legislature to address in 2022. 51% of individuals surveyed said emergency preparedness for health crises such as pandemics, earthquakes, and fires, is “extremely important” for Newsom and the state legislature to address in 2022.
The other top priorities for survey respondents were ensuring that there are enough providers across the state (48%), ensuring access to health insurance for all Californians (48%), ensuring individuals with mental health issues have access to appropriate treatment (47%), and lowering costs associated with health care (47%).
The health policy priorities of survey respondents differed according to race.
The survey revealed that Californians are worried about health care costs, as 83% of respondents reported that making health care more affordable is an “extremely” or “very” important priority for the upcoming year. Many of these Californians expressed concern about unexpected medical bills and out-of-pocket health care costs, as well as monthly health insurance premiums, prescription drug costs, rent or mortgage, and transportation costs. 25% said they or someone in their family had struggled to pay at least one medical bill in the last year, increasing by 5% since last year’s survey.
The report noted that Californians with lower incomes are more than twice as likely to report having problems paying for medical bills compared to Californians with higher incomes. Half of Californians reported postponing or skipping health care at least once due to cost in the past year, and 47% reported that their condition worsened as a result, compared to 41% in last year’s survey.
Survey analysis also found that 19% of Californians say they or someone close to them has experienced a period of homelessness in the past five years. Black Californians were also 43% more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to report having experienced or knowing someone that has experienced homelessness in the past five years.
The report noted that over half of Californians who are currently worried about experiencing a period of homelessness would reportedly not feel comfortable talking to their primary care provider about their housing concerns.
Health equity was also a notable issue included in the survey. 83% of Black respondents said it was more difficult for them to get the health care they need than white Californians, and 58% of Latinx respondents said it was harder for them as well. Additionally, the majority of respondents reported that they believed the federal government (81%), state government (76%), health insurance plans (72%), hospitals (67%), individual health care providers (66%), and public health departments (64%) are all doing “too little” to address racial and ethnic inequality in the health care system.
According to the survey, Californians are also receiving care through telehealth at much higher rates than last year. Over half have received care by phone in the last year—an increase from 45% in the previous year—and 44% have received care by video in the last year–an increase from 35%. 83% of respondents said they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their care by video, and 79% said they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their phone care.