FIELD POLL: Latinos Rank Health As Most Important Issue In Gubernatorial Race
Eighty-three percent of Latinos said health is "a very important" issue in the upcoming gubernatorial election, according to a new poll released today. In comparison, only 43% of all Californians said the issue was important in an earlier Field poll. The most recent survey, conducted by the California HealthCare Foundation and the Field Institute, found that Latinos care most about their children having access to basic, preventive health care (89%), followed by concern than all Californians have access to affordable health coverage (84%). Nearly 80% said ensuring that patients have access to care, regardless of their ability to pay, was also an important issue to them. "It's not surprising this population is more concerned about health care coverage than the general population. Thirty-nine percent of Latinos polled are uninsured and close to half say that it would be difficult to get coverage if they lost their benefits," said Mark Smith, president and CEO of CHCF. "While the policy debate has focused on whether uninsured people have adequate choice of doctors in their health plans, many in the Latino community are facing the very real problem of not being able to get insurance for themselves and their kids."
The survey found that nearly 40% adult Latinos are uninsured and that half of all adult Latinos in California have gone without health insurance for some period during the past year. Of the Latinos who are insured, 42% are covered through their own employer or a family member's employer, labor union or trade association. Eighty-five percent of Latinos say they are "very or somewhat familiar" with Medi-Cal, compared with only 33% who say the same about Healthy Families. "While it's true that familiarity with the Healthy Families program is still low, it's important to keep in mind that the program is only three months old," said Smith. "It will take time to raise the public's awareness and there are many people working hard to accelerate that process." Twenty-three percent of Californian Latinos are currently covered through a government-sponsored program, according to the poll.
But despite the fact that many Latino adults are uninsured, only 22% report not having a regular health provider to go to when they need medical attention: 41% say they receive care from a doctor's office and 29% from a clinic. Only 5% say they use the emergency room as their regular source of health care. Of the survey respondents who are parents, 89% said their children have a regular health provider. "If families are getting regular care at a doctor or clinic, it's likely that a fair number of those providers are subsidized. We need to ensure that those safety net providers get the funding they need to provide care to those who rely on those services," Smith said.
I Have Confidence
Almost half (46%) of Latinos in the state said they had "a lot of confidence" in doctors, nurses and other health professionals, while 39% said they had "some confidence." Roughly a third of respondents expressed "a lot of confidence" in government health agencies, while 40% expressed "some confidence." Latinos who are United States citizens tended to report lower levels of confidence than non-citizens The surveys were conducted in either English or Spanish with 601 Latinos adults throughout California Sept. 11-28. The margin of error is plus/minus 3% (CHCF release, 10/20). Visit Foundation's website and read the survey at www.chcf.org.