The top five findings from CHCF's 2024 California Health Policy Poll

The illustration symbolizes the CHCF health policy survey with a large group of people standing in the shape of a speech bubble.

Over the past several years, Californians have continued efforts to provide health insurance coverage to more than 1 million additional residents, increase access to social services that improve health and well-being, and reduce inequitable patient treatment and outcomes in our health care. Have come together for this. System. But as we continue to work our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no shortage of health care challenges facing our state, including rising health care costs, the strain on our mental health system, Including persistent provider shortages and increased wait times. care in many communities, according to the 2024 CHCF California Health Policy Survey.

The survey offers a comprehensive look at the health issues Californians are most concerned about — and what they hope state policymakers will prioritize in the coming year. The survey was last conducted by CHCF and NORC at the University of Chicago.

CHCF has been publishing its Policy Survey annually for five years. In doing so, it has identified changing trends in the health care landscape as well as emerging issues such as the impacts of climate change on health and Californians’ views about the use of artificial intelligence in health care. The full findings can be found here.

Key findings from the poll

While the survey contains many new and interesting insights about the health care experiences and policy preferences shared by Californians, here are my top five findings from this year’s research:

  1. California’s mental health system is strained. This year’s CHCF survey found that more than half (52%) of those who tried to make an appointment for mental health care in the past year had trouble finding a mental health provider who would accept their insurance. And a similar proportion (55%) report unreasonable wait times for mental health treatment. When asked about the treatment of serious mental illness, more than two in three Californians (67%) believe there is a need for reform. Expanding access to mental health treatment is now an “extremely” or “very” important health policy priority for four in four Californians (81%).
  2. Health care costs and medical debt are making Californians sicker. More than half of Californians (53%) say they skipped or postponed care because of cost in the past year — that number rises to a staggering three in four when it comes to low-income Californians (74%) It happens. This is causing major health challenges, as more than half of people who leave care (54%) say their condition has worsened as a result. Meanwhile, more than 4 in 10 Californians (38%), and more than half of those with low incomes (52%) say they carry medical debt, with nearly one in five owing $5,000 or more.
  3. Significant work remains to improve racial equity in health care. Despite new efforts to acknowledge and respond to racial disparities in the health system, Californians have mixed views on the pace of reform. While 42% of Californians overall believe the state has made “a lot” or “some” progress toward racial and ethnic health equity over the past several years, 44% of Black Californians and 33% of Latino/x Californians Says the state has done this. “Only a little progress” or “no progress” was made. Nearly half of Californians (45%) say the health system “regularly” or “sometimes” treats people unfairly because of their race – that number rises to 67% for Black Californians. A recent CHCF study, Listening to Black Californians, identified several policy actions and practice changes at the clinical, administrative, and training levels that could reduce the impact of racism on the health care experiences of Black Californians and improve their health outcomes. Can.
  4. California’s health workforce shortage is impacting many communities, Nearly half of Californians (46%) think there are not enough mental health care providers, including psychologists and therapists, in their community to meet the needs of residents. And 42% say there are not enough nurses or primary care providers in their community. These numbers increase through 2022 for many health professions. Multiracial (69%) and Black Californians (56%) are more likely than Asians (37%) and white Californians (45%) to say their community lacks adequate mental health providers.
  5. Extreme weather is a growing health problem in the Golden State, With the impacts of climate change becoming a part of everyday life, more than half (53%) of Californians say they are “very” concerned about the impacts of environmental factors such as extreme heat, flooding, wildfires and bad air. Or “somewhat” concerned. quality on the physical or mental health of someone in their family. This number increases to 65% for low-income people. Among Spanish-speaking Californians, 82% say they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the impact of the weather on their health, compared to 25% among English (52%) or Chinese (51%). More than one in five Californians (21%) – and 29% of low-income state residents – report that extreme weather has had an impact on their health.
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The full Health Policy Survey report has more details on these and many other health issues concerning Californians, including housing and homelessness as well as the challenges of navigating the health system.