Every single Californian deserves access to high quality health care. Unfortunately, millions of people remain uninsured; many more are underinsured and unable to access meaningful care for many other reasons. We deserve better. As COVID-19 has shown us all too clearly, it is a public health necessity that everyone has access to high quality health care. That is why Fatima champions a universal health care with strong coverage for mental health care, reproductive health, substance abuse treatment, and more. Learn more about the issues and our plan to make sure that everyone in District 64 has access to the health care services they deserve.
2.7 million people in California have no health insurance. In LA, 893,000 people had no health insurance in 2016. There are many different reasons why people are uninsured. In LA County, approximately 65% of the uninsured do not qualify for insurance due to their immigration status. The other 35% qualify for state health insurance but, often because of cost, have chosen not to enroll. 5% of uninsured people qualify for MediCare, 17.5% qualify for Covered California without subsidies, and the remaining 12% would qualify for Covered California with subsidies.
Want to learn more? Check out these resources:
UC Berkeley Labor Center & UCLA Center for Health Policy Research joint report on uninsured projections
LA County Department of Public Health’s report on trends in health insurance
Hundreds of thousands of people in LA county do not have health insurance due to cost. Even for people who are insured, many people do not seek out needed health services due to prohibitive costs. Premiums and service costs are increasing. That’s why hundreds of thousands of people experience bankruptcy and financial hardship due to medical costs. Among people with employer-sponsored insurance, 19% of people had to use all or most of their savings for health-related costs. 26% had to cut back on household items like food in order to cover the costs. Over 50% of people had someone in their family who had to skip or postpone a needed prescription due to cost.
Not only is health insurance exorbitantly expensive for individuals, it is expensive for our government: the US spends more per capita on health insurance than other countries with comparable wealth. We pay more for worse care. This is mostly due to high care costs in the US for services, prescriptions, and more. Because of these high costs, people without access to regular, quality health care often need to access emergency services more often, which tend to be more expensive and a less-effective health intervention. This happens often in our community. For example, more people visit the emergency room for asthma attacks in District 64 than almost anywhere else in California. Asthma is one example of a condition that could be better maintained and managed through regular primary care visits rather than emergency care.
Even when people have health insurance, the coverage and care is not always enough. This happens for many reasons. For example, poorer patients – even if they have insurance – tend to use health care services less frequently due to financial or time constraints. Where doctors offices are, how accessible transportation is, what specific types of care are covered under a plan, deductible rates, and more all have an important impact.
Racial bias also has marked impacts on our livelihood and the effectiveness of health care. Studies have shown that Black patients have better health outcomes when they work with Black doctors. Because of structural inequities in our education and employment systems, only 1/3 of all doctors in California are people of color. Implicit and structural biases help explain many health disparities, such as why Black women have a maternal mortality rate that is 2.5 times higher than white women. Even among people who have insurance, not all coverage is equal or adequate.
We have collaborated with community members and organizations to create a comprehensive health policy platform that centers justice and health for our entire community and state.
Firstly, it is time that we pass universal, single payer health care for all. Public health crises like the Coronavirus show us how important it is for all of us to have coverage, not only some. We need to make sure that everyone has access to affordable, high quality care – including for all immigrants, regardless of their citizenship status.
As part of our health care, we must include strong provisions to increase coverage for mental health, behavioral health, and substance abuse treatment. We know that these are important health needs that impact many of us. Ensuring everyone has access to therapy, counseling, addiction treatments, and more is critical for our individual and collective well being.
We know that costs are too high. We must pass laws that will help us reduce costs for health insurance premiums as well as for health care services and prescriptions.
Additionally, we know that there are strong racial disparities across California in health outcomes. Part of this is due to access to care, but there are many other factors as well. Gaining a critical understanding of how racial disparities in health develop is an important step in creating meaningful solutions. Therefore, we need to analyze, and ultimately create policies to address racial health disparities across California.