By RIA ROEBUCK JOSEPH
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – A recently released survey of Californians by the California Health Care Foundation and NORC at the University of Chicago found that making health care affordable was still a top priority for Californians. In a state that mandated health coverage for every individual starting in 2020, and exempted or subsidized those unable to afford a health policy, the revelation that cost was the number one factor for health care, was eye-opening.
Eighty-one percent of those polled said affordability was extremely or very important, placing health care costs as a top concern just below inflation and housing affordability.
Californians with higher incomes were less likely to think of items as extremely or very important compared to those with low incomes.
Among all ethnic groups 98% of Blacks said that affordability was extremely or very important compared to 87% for Latinos, 88% for Asians and 76% for whites.
Fifty-two percent of those surveyed reported skipping or delaying at least one kind of healthcare due to cost this past year. This resulted in a worsening of the condition in half of those who delayed care, but that number jumped to six in ten (61%) among the low income population with Blacks and Latinos more likely to skip care due to cost.
Medical bills and out-of-pocket costs were a concern for 65% of Californians, further demonstrating a gap between affordable health care and state subsidized care.
“…in poll after poll, what we see most consistently is that Californians want and need the rising cost of care to be contained,” Kristof Stremikis, director of Market Analysis and Insight at the California Health Care Foundation stated.
For Blacks, making sure people with mental health problems can get the treatment that they need was the top health care priority, in agreement with half (50%) of Californians. The greatest concern for Latinos was making sure public health departments had the resources required to respond to emergencies: pandemics, earthquakes and fires in alignment with concerns for 49% of Californians. Asian and white Californians cared mostly about whether there are enough doctors, nurses and other health care providers across California, a concern with a similar proportion at 49 percent.
“The percentage of Californians who say funding health care, including mental health services, for people experiencing homelessness is “extremely” important has increased to 39%, up from 35% a year ago,” the survey stated.
Overall, nine out of ten Californians would like to see legislation making health care and housing more affordable in the state.
“The high cost of care is now directly impacting the health and financial security of millions of California families,” Mr. Stremikis said.
One extremely important priority in health care identified by the survey was access to reproductive health care including abortion (41%). It was ranked extremely or very important among 82 percent of blacks; 72 percent of Latinos; 66 percent of Asians, and 60 percent whites.
Other top priorities for health care were: making information about the price of doctor visits, tests, and procedures more available to patients (40%); funding health care, including mental health services, for people experiencing homelessness (39%); and reducing differences in health care quality between racial and ethnic groups (38%).