CHCF Releases 2022 Health Policy Survey Results, Finds Significant Support for Health Departments

The California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) this week released its 2022 California Health Policy Survey, its annual poll examining Californians’ views on health care affordability, housing and homelessness, experiences with health care, health care equity, and the COVID-19 pandemic. CHCF partnered with the National Opinion Research Council (NORC) at the University of Chicago to assess opinions among a random representative sample of nearly 1,700 Californians 18 and older. The survey was conducted between September 27 through November 17, 2021.

Of particular note, topping the list of Californians’ health care priorities is ensuring state and local health departments have the resources they need to respond to emergencies (51 percent indicating this is “extremely important” and 34 percent said “very important”). Although the survey was conducted prior to the Omicron surge, the survey found that COVID-19 remains a major concern amongst state residents with 56 percent indicating their health has been negatively impacted by the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic. One in 10 residents say the pandemic has worsened their chronic health conditions.

Californians additionally expressed worry about the rising costs of health care services, with one in four residents indicating they have struggled to pay for at least one medical bill in the past 12 months (up from 20 percent last year) and 49 percent indicating that they have postponed care due to cost. More than 8 in 10 Californians say it is “extremely” or “very” important for the Governor and Legislature to work on “making health care more affordable” in the coming year, rising above other high-profile issues, including improving public education and combating climate change.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • While rising costs are a concern for all Californians, they have become particularly serious for lower-income households: 43 percent of Californians with lower incomes report having problems paying for at least one medical bill. More than 6 in 10 Californians overall worry about unexpected medical bills (63 percent) and out-of-pocket health care costs (60 percent).
  • One in five Californians (19 percent) say they or someone close to them has experienced a period of homelessness in the past five years. The same proportion (19 percent) are “very” or “somewhat” worried about experiencing homelessness. Californians see a connection between affordable housing and health status, with 80 percent of residents saying lack of affordable housing impacts the physical or mental health of people with low incomes “a lot” or “some.”
  • Nearly 6 in 10 residents (59 percent) believe that the health care system treats people unfairly based on their race or ethnic background: one quarter (26 percent) “regularly” and a third (33 percent) “occasionally.” 83 percent of Black residents expressed this belief, a significantly higher percentage than any other race or ethnic group. Black and Latino residents were more likely than White or Asian Californians to report negative experiences by a doctor or other health care provider.

The full CHCF 2022 California Health Policy Survey is available here.