The 2015 Cal Wellness-Field Health Policy Survey shows California voters strongly support the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its implementation in California. Some highlights:
Strong support for the ACA: 62% now support the ACA, outnumbering opponents (33%) nearly two to one. For the first time, majorities of voters living in all regions of the state, all races and ethnicities, and all age groups support the law, which has dramatically expanded health coverage to Californians.
Positive outlook on California’s implementation of the ACA: Over 2/3 of voters think California’s implementation of the ACA has been successful. In addition, increasing majorities believe the state has been successful in achieving six of seven specific goals of the law, including:
- encouraging more previously uninsured residents to get coverage;
- expanding Medi-Cal to extend health insurance to more low-income residents
- providing consumers with more insurance choices
- obtaining the federal funds needed to implement the law
- establishing a one-stop place where consumers can go to shop for health insurance online; and
- providing insurance buyers with better consumer protections.
Voters are less confident about whether the state has been successful in meeting the ACA’s goal of limiting rate increases that insurance companies charge their customers. Forty two percent of voters feel the state has been successful in meeting this goal, and 44% do not.
Medi-Cal is important to voters and their families: Nearly two in three voters (63%) believe the Medi-Cal program is important to themselves and their families. The proportion of voters describing Medi-Cal as very important has increased sixteen points over the past four years, from 29% in 2011 to 45% this year. This is indicative of the increase in Medi-Cal enrollment, which now covers 1 in 2 California children and 1 in 3 adults in California.
- Nearly all current Medi-Cal recipients (91%) think the program is very important, as do 79% of those with an annual household income of less than $20,000.
- Large majorities of those who receive coverage through Medi-Cal show the strongest support for the program. Latinos (66%), Asian Americans (61%) and African Americans (55%) also describe the program as being very important to them.
Half of voters have visited the Covered CA website: About half of voters under age 65 (48%) say they have personally visited the state’s Covered California website, the place where consumers and small businesses can shop for health insurance online. Last year, only 36% reported having visited the website.
Voters still concerned about affordability and the cost of healthcare: Almost four in ten voters (39%) say that the amount they and their family pay for health care increased over the past year. This compares to 48% who report their health care costs remaining about the same, and 8% who report a decline.
- Voters who get coverage from their employer or who purchased their coverage independently are somewhat more likely to say their health costs rose over the past year.
- Another four in ten (42%) say it’s difficult for them to pay for their health care, while 55% say these costs are not too or not at all difficult to pay. Uninsured voters are much more likely than insured voters to report this.
- Insured voters say insurance deductibles and the monthly cost of paying for insurance itself are among the most difficult things to pay.
- The proportion of people reporting cost increases or difficulties in paying for health care have declined in recent years. For example, the 39% of voters who reported increases in their health care costs over the past year is 11 percentage points lower than what was reported in 2013, when half said this was the case. Similarly, the proportion of voters who say it is difficult for them to pay for their health care declined 10 points from what voters reported two years ago.
California Voters Support Health Access policy priorities: In addition to #Health4All, the Field Poll shows there is strong voter support for a number of Health Access’ policy priorities.
- Accurate Provider Directories: More than three in four voters (78%) favor increasing government oversight over insurance companies to ensure that their listings of doctors and health providers is up-to date. Our SB 137 (co-sponsored with CPEHN and Consumers Union), which will hold health plans and insurers accountable for accurate provider directories, is headed for a floor vote in the Assembly.
- Increase Tobacco Tax: Voters strongly support increasing the state cigarette tax by more than a two-to-one margin (67% to 30%). Bills to do just this, ABx2 16 (Bonta/Thurmond) and SBx2 13 (Pan/Hernandez) were introduced earlier this week as part of the Special Session.