Polls: Californians Struggle with Health Care, but Don’t Know about the Looming Exchange

Thursday, August 22, 2013
(graphic: State of Indiana)

Half of California voters say they are having a tough time paying for health care, but three-fourths of them under the age of 65 don’t know about the health care exchange that opens in October as part of the Affordable Health Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, according to two new Field Polls.

Just 6% say they have heard a lot about Covered California, which expects to enroll 2.3 million state residents by 2017. About one-third queried in the August 21 Field Poll (pdf) said they have heard a little about the exchange and 42% say they haven’t heard a word.

That might change next month when the state begins a publicity drive, but the numbers don’t speak well of an electorate that has been subjected to a barrage of media stories for years, pro and con, on a subject that has them very worried.

Half of those questioned in the August 19 Field Poll (pdf) said their health care costs had gone up in the last year, compared to 41% who said it last year, and a like amount said it was a problem for them. Those who had the most trouble paying were most likely to report an increase. That included the uninsured (72%), low-income residents (71%), voters with Medi-Cal (63%) and those in the individual market (60%).

Around 58% of California voters said Medi-Cal—the state version of the federal Medicaid program for disadvantaged people—is important to them and their family. Around 81% said the same thing about the federal Medicare program for the elderly.

Although Californians don’t know much about the health care exchange—an online marketplace where they can shop for insurance coverage—they do know change is coming and are optimistic that “it,” whatever “it” is, will work well. Two-thirds of California voters think implementation of the Affordable Care Act will go well, while 32% do not.

They think consumers will have more insurance choices (61%), there will be more consumer protections (60%), the necessary federal funding will be obtained (64%), the uninsured will get insurance (66%) and it will be easier to shop for insurance (63%), even if they don’t know much about the health care exchange.

–Ken Broder  


To Learn More:

Half of California Voters Report Difficulty Paying for Health Care, Poll Finds (by David Siders, Sacramento Bee)

Poll Shows Californians Know Little about State Health Insurance Exchange, Benefits (by David Siders, Sacramento Bee)

Few California Voters Know Much about Healthcare Overhaul, Poll Shows (by Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times)

Half of California Voters Say Their Health Care Costs Increased This Year (The Field Poll) (pdf)

Few Voters Know Much about the State’s Covered California Health Exchange (The Field Poll) (pdf)

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