Every two years, the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research conducts an extensive survey — with a county-by-county breakdown of income, ethnicity and health indicators of Californians.
The California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) is the nation’s largest state survey. Yesterday, the center released its 2009 data, one day after issuing its first policy brief on the data, which looked at the recent rise in how many people will be eligible for Medi-Cal and under national health care reform.
That kind of information is vital in crafting the state’s health policies, according to E. Richard Brown, director of UCLA’s CHPR.Â
“It’s important for policymakers to understand what’s really out there,” Brown said, “so they make sure they’re targeting programs to the people who need them.”
In addition to the Medi-Cal eligibility issue, Brown said researchers examined an array of health issues for the survey.
“We also will be looking at trends in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, the chronic diseases and conditions,” Brown said. “Not just the effect on individuals, but on communities. It costs counties and the state a lot of money to deal with these issues — not just the prevalence of them, but people’s use of health services in relation to them.
“It’s important to know whether people with these chronic conditions are getting the regular care that might help them,” Brown said. “These are important issues from a public health perspective.”
The next policy brief based on the data — to be released next month — will focus on the characteristics of the people eligible for coverage and subsidies under the California benefits exchange, Brown said.
In addition advocates and drafters of public policy, the UCLA data is also available to individual Californians, he said.
“We put a lot of effort into making the information available and accessible, whether policymakers or analysts, or ordinary people who might find it through a publication or the online query system,” Brown said.