How did Californians’ health fare in 2020? New California Health Interview Survey findings explore how a year of unprecedented change impacted residents’ health
Nationwide, various reports on COVID-19 cases and deaths, racial injustice, and a presidential election flooded the media circuit throughout 2020. As the U.S. continues to grapple with the pandemic’s toll on countless lives, findings from the California Health Interview Survey, or CHIS, are taking a closer look at statewide impacts among 39.5 million Californians.
The just-released data from the survey, which is led by a team at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, shows a range of results on how the pandemic, along with other unprecedented factors, may have affected residents’ health. The research team quickly adapted the survey to add a series of COVID-19 questions last year. A total of 22,661 households were included in the 2020 data, including 21,949 adults, 1,365 adolescents, and 3,548 children.
For example, the survey found that COVID-19 was a primary reason why people delayed or decided to go without medical care in 2020. In contrast, it may have been a surprise that there were a record number of Californians – 94% – who had health insurance coverage last year. Differences in health care access, especially across racial and ethnic groups, were more likely to have been magnified during this time period. This was confirmed by an accompanying policy brief, which estimated that about 1 in 10 or 11% of Black and African American respondents said that they did not have a usual place to go when sick or needing health advice in 2020, a 26% jump from 2019, despite almost 90% of this group being insured.