Investigation: Record number of Californians have health insurance, but COVID has reduced access to care


Healthcare providers gather at the nurses’ station in the intensive care unit of Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. (Zoë Meyers / new source)

Californians achieved record health insurance coverage in 2020, with 94% of residents covered, but fewer people received routine check-ups, mostly due to concerns about COVID-19, researchers found.

The California Health Interview Survey 2020 includes data from 22,661 California households, including 21,949 adults, 1,365 adolescents, and 3,548 children.

Among adults participating in the survey, 67.9% had a preventive care visit in 2020, up from 71.1% in 2019. The 2020 results mark the lowest number since 2013.

More than 21% cited COVID-19 as the main reason they delayed or denied medical care in 2020. But for adults 65 and older, 55.2% said COVID-19 was the main reason for delaying or forgoing medical care.

UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research released the results this week.

“This is one of the most important data releases in the 20-year history of the survey, as it sheds light on the impact of the pandemic on multi-year trends in California for behavior related to the health and access to health care, as well as unfair treatment. because of race or ethnicity, ”said Todd Hughes, director of the survey.

The results, he said, are based on preliminary monthly estimates of COVID-19 that began to be released a year ago. The data provided early monthly data on COVID-19 treatment and vaccine acceptance, as well as the personal and financial impacts of the pandemic.

Just over 15% of essential workers surveyed said they had or thought they had COVID-19 in 2020, while 12.1% of non-essential workers had or thought they had the virus.

However, non-essential workers were slightly more likely to say they would receive the COVID-19 vaccine: 76.7% said they would be vaccinated compared to 73.6% of essential workers.

The survey also found that pandemic home orders have created healthier eating habits and less binge drinking for young people, with 2.6% of people aged 12 to 17 saying they had engaged in binge drinking in the past month, up from 7% in 2019.

The percentage of adolescents who ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day increased from 26.1% in 2019 to 33.3% in 2020.

However, the survey also found a 51% increase in teens reporting being “almost constantly” on the Internet.

“Seeing how COVID-19 has affected the physical, mental and emotional health of Californians benefits not only researchers, but also individuals and groups engaged in political and field efforts across the state,” said Ninez Ponce , director of the research center. and a principal investigator for the survey.

“Because targeted data can be harnessed, it allows those in power to determine which Californians need help the most.”

The California Health Interview Survey is conducted annually to provide health data to policy makers, researchers, and health experts. The survey was adapted in 2020 to include questions about the pandemic, but it also featured information on health insurance coverage and trends among different racial and ethnic groups.

The survey found that 11% of black participants don’t have a usual place to go when they are sick or need health advice, a 26% increase from 2019. However, almost 90% of black participants reported having health insurance.

The survey also found that 6.4% of black respondents and 4.2% of Asian respondents experienced unfair treatment based on race and ethnicity. This makes black adults more than three times more likely and Asian adults more than twice as likely to report unfair treatment compared to the general adult population in California.

Those who reported unfair treatment because of race or ethnicity were also more likely to report having suicidal thoughts, investigators said.

– City news service

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