According to the New Poll, Increasing Number of Californians Struggle to Pay for Health Care and Over Half Have Delayed Due to Cost

For Immediate Release: Thursday, January 11, 2020

Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California,, 916-870-4782 (cell)
Rachel Linn Gish, director of communications, Health Access California,, 916-532-2128 (cell)


SACRAMENTO, CA – Today the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) released a new poll showing that Californians are increasingly worried about the rising cost of health care, and want the state to take action. The poll, which surveyed a representative sample of Californians, also found that over half of Californians have postponed or skipped care due to cost. Results from the survey are also compared to a 2019 CHCF poll on the same topics to identify emerging trends. More specifically:

  • More than eight in 10 (84%) Californians think addressing health care affordability should be an extremely or very important priority for the Governor and Legislature in 2020.
  • Just over half of Californians (51%) have skipped or postponed physical or mental health care due to cost — up from 44% last year. Of those who took this step, 42% said it made their condition worse.
  • Compared to last year’s survey, Californians are more worried about paying for unexpected medical bills (63% last year; 69% today), out-of-pocket health care costs (55% last year; 66% today), prescription drugs (42% last year; 50% today), and health insurance premiums (39% last year; 44% today).
  • Many Californians also reported going to great lengths to be able to pay their medical bills: Two-thirds (66%) have cut back on spending on basic household items like food and clothing. Almost half have used up their savings (49%), increased their credit card debt (49%), taken on extra work (46%), borrowed money from friends or family (42%), or taken out money from their long-term savings accounts such as savings for college or retirement (37%).

“When so many Californians are worried about medical bills, and making tough choices to afford their health care, this poll underscores the urgency of policymakers to take action on health care affordability. Compared to other industrialized countries, Americans pay more for care and get less, with worse outcomes. Health care costs are a major contributor to the affordability crisis in California, and our state leaders need to act to help patients and hold the health industry accountable,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition.

“These polls results also highlight the urgency of passing Governor Newsom’s proposal for a new Office of Health Care Affordability. The office would take a comprehensive approach to lowering costs by setting cost targets across the entire health care system, and would build in enforceable financial consequences for parts of the industry that fail to meet these goals. As California consumers are being crushed by the high cost of health care. this new Office is the most innovative and potentially effective tool the state would have provide urgent relief to patients and the public,” said Wright. “California needs to continue its leadership role in going after specific abuses and market failures, from surprise medical bills to inflated prescription drug prices, and we need an Office of Health Care Affordability to undertake a comprehensive strategy to demand and ensure savings that provides real cost relief to consumers.”