Three-Quarters of California Legislative Districts Have Uninsured Rates Exceeding National Average, Report Say
Three-quarters of California's legislative districts have higher uninsured rates among people under age 64 than the national average of 17%, according to a new report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The report, the first in California to examine rates of uninsurance according to the state's 80 Assembly districts and 40 Senate districts, was funded by the California Endowment. The report compares uninsured rates for children, adults and the elderly across districts for 2000 (UCLA Center for Health Policy Research release, 5/22). According to the report, uninsured rates for the non-elderly range from 10% to 44% in Assembly districts and from 12% to 43% in Senate districts. Sixty Assembly districts and 29 Senate districts have uninsured rates higher than 17%. Overall, 6.8 million Californians were uninsured in 1999. Of that number, nearly 1.85 million are children. In Assembly districts, the rate of uninsured children ranges from 6% to 36% and in Senate districts, the rate ranges between 6% and 35%. Districts with higher-than-average uninsured rates for children were located mainly in Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino, Inyo, Kern, Riverside, Orange, Imperial and San Diego counties, and in the San Francisco Bay area, the San Joaquin Valley and the city of Sacramento. Uninsured rates for adults range from 11% to 49% in Assembly districts and between 14% and 47% in Senate districts. Approximately 2% of the state's elderly were uninsured in 1999. In Assembly districts, the percentage of uninsured elderly ranged from 2% to 8% and in Senate districts, from 2% to 7%.
The report notes that in districts with high uninsurance rates, "large numbers of uninsured residents fail to receive important preventive care ... and are less likely to receive effective management of their chronic illnesses." However, California now has the "policy tools" to address the problem, the report says, pointing out that the state could receive "generous matching funds" from the federal government to expand Medi-Cal and Healthy Families. By improving policies and procedures that "would more effectively enroll and retain eligible children and adults," the state could expand both programs, the report notes (UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, "Uninsured Californians in Assembly and Senate Districts, 2000," 5/22). To access the report, go to http://www.healthpolicy.ucla.edu/UninsuredCaliforniansReport.html.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.