Most Low-Income Calif. Residents Want More Health Information
More than half of low-income California residents want to have more information to help them make health care decisions, according to a study by the Blue Shield of California Foundation, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports.
The figure increases to 71% if the information is clear and accessible, the study found.
There are nearly seven million uninsured individuals in California, accounting for 15% of the uninsured population nationally. About three million earn 138% or less of the federal poverty level, qualifying them for Medi-Cal.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Rao, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 10/23).
Details of the Study
For the study, researchers interviewed 1,018 California residents ages 19 to 64 who earned less than 200% of the federal poverty level, or $46,000 for a family of four (Aliferis, "State of Health," KQED, 10/24).
The study also included 500 other participants with higher incomes.
The study found that:
- Respondents who are satisfied with their care or whose providers encourage their involvement felt the most informed; and
- Respondents who relied on emergency departments for care felt the least informed.
Just over one-fourth of respondents said they have the necessary information to make knowledgeable health care decisions (Payers & Providers, 10/24).
The study also found that 39% of respondents received most of their health information from television, the Internet or printed materials, compared with 38% who received most of their health information from medical professionals.
In addition, about 40% of respondents said they did not have access to the Internet, including 67% of Spanish-speaking respondents.
Of those who did have Internet access, nearly 75% were interested in accessing an online patient portal.
In addition, few respondents had access to email or text messaging technology. Of those who did, 87% said direct messages from their physicians through such technology would be helpful ("State of Health," KQED, 10/24).
The study states that the "success or failure of safety-net clinics, and the health care system more broadly, depends as never before on empowering and engaging patients to be active informed partners in their own health care."
To reach that goal, the study recommends that providers and patients work together to adopt alternate care, communication and information strategies (Payers & Providers, 10/24).
The study also states that team-based care could "enhance, rather than diminish, the critical connection between patients and their providers."
During a briefing on Wednesday, Kavita Patel -- managing director of delivery system reform at the Brookings Institution -- said the findings "illustrat[e] that no matter what your income is, patient engagement matters" ("State of Health," KQED, 10/24).
Panelists at the briefing said that team-based care systems need to address barriers to treatment that exist for low-income patients, including:
- Transportation needs;
- Better use of technology; and
- Effective patient education ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 10/23).