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The California Health Policy Survey

female doctor analyzing patient's heartbeat
A survey of California residents’ views on and experiences with a variety of health care topics
  • Client
    California Health Care Foundation
  • Dates
    2020 – Present

Problem

Understanding the health care-related opinions and experiences of Californians is important to informing system improvements.

The California Health Care Foundation is an independent, nonprofit philanthropy that works to improve the health care system so that all Californians have the care they need. California is home to nearly 40 million people of different incomes, ages, and racial and ethnic backgrounds, and who live in different regions. Understanding their views and experiences on a variety of health care topics, as well as the differences amongst population subgroups, is critical to improving the system to meet their needs.

Solution

NORC conducts a representative statewide survey to measure health-related views and experiences.

Since 2020, NORC has conducted a representative, statewide survey of California residents via a mixed AmeriSpeak Panel and address-based sample (ABS) design. The survey asks about views and experiences on topics, including health-related priorities for state government, access to and cost of care, equity, telehealth, homelessness, and experiences with COVID-19. NORC fields the survey in English, Spanish, and (starting in 2023) Chinese. Analyses are focused on understanding differences between Californians with lower and higher incomes and between racial and ethnic groups.

Result

Significant proportions of Californians are having trouble accessing and paying for the care they need.

Key findings from the 2024 survey include: 

  • More than half of Californians who tried to make an appointment report having trouble finding a mental health provider who takes their insurance, compared to only 14 percent who say the same for physical health care. All told, 81 percent of Californians say it is important for state policymakers to focus on increasing access to mental health care in 2024.

  • Rising costs for all types of care remain a major area of concern: 53 percent of Californians say they have skipped or postponed care due to cost in the last year—a number that climbs to 74 percent among people with low incomes. Nearly 4 in 10 Californians now report carrying medical debt.

  • This year’s poll finds views shifting on other issues: Views are mixed on whether the state is making progress toward racial equity in health care, while the effects of climate change are having growing health impacts, especially for Californians with low incomes and those who speak Spanish.

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