With one of the most diverse populations in the world and the love of the outdoors shared by many of its citizens, the Golden State would seem to be a very healthy place to live. Unfortunately, there remains a large disparity between the haves and the have nots when it comes to healthcare. California tends to be one of the more expensive places to live in the US and many people struggle with accessing healthcare and health insurance. According to the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF), one of every three Californians is living in or near the poverty level.
Based on statistics that are derived from life insurance applicants, California ties with three other states for fourth place in the healthy citizen category. And there are barriers, including language and culture, that make accessing healthcare a problem for many members of that celebrated diverse population. Plus California harbors a large homeless population who doesn’t see a medical professional on a regular basis and who spread disease, like Hepatitis A, through the streets.
Do Californians Think Their State is a Healthy Place?
In 2015, nearly 2,200 Californians were asked about topics such as health insurance, crime, employment, and the environment in their community. Those communities included:
- Los Angeles County
- The San Francisco Bay Area
- The South Coast, which spans Ventura County to the Mexican border, per the State of California Coastal Conservancy
- The Inland Empire, which comprises 15 San Bernardino cities, according to the League of California Cities
- Central Valley, a 40- to 60-mile wide and 450-mile long agricultural area that includes state capital Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, Redding, and Stockton
Out of the five, Central Valley respondents were the most likely to say their communities felt polluted, unsafe and unhealthy. Asked to rate whether their community was a ‘healthy place to live,’ 45 percent of the valley’s residents chose ‘fair,’ ‘poor’ or ‘very poor.’ The Central Valley was also the region most likely to take a fair or worse view of pollution — 55 percent, compared to 42 percent statewide — and public safety — 56 percent, compared to 46 percent statewide.”
Consequently, only about half of Central Valley respondents believed they had clean drinking water. Environmentalists have raised concerns about fertilizers leaking into the valley’s groundwater for years.
What Questions Did the Survey Ask?
The Advancing Wellness Poll asked 120 questions. Some were U.S. Census Bureau-type questions, such as:
- Including yourself, how many people currently live in your household?
- How many of these people are children under age 18?
- Are you White or Caucasian, Black or African-American, Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian or an Alaskan native, or a member of another race?
- Do you own or rent your home?
Five questions asked respondents to rank their community in terms of gang and gun violence, quality of public schools, access to healthy foods, job opportunities for at-risk youth, and pollution, such as garbage and pesticides.
Several in-depth questions asked about healthcare. For example:
- Have you been told by a doctor that you have a chronic health condition, like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease?
- Do you currently have any kind of healthcare coverage? This would include health insurance that you receive through your or another family member’s employer or union, through a government program, like Medicare, Medi-Cal or the military, or through a health plan that you purchased separately.
Forty-nine percent of respondents said they couldn’t afford health insurance.
Breaking down the Numbers in Health Care
Latinos are more likely [than] the state’s other ethnic populations to report difficulties in getting both medical care and dental care when they need it. About one in three of the Latinos surveyed (31%) say it is very or somewhat difficult for them to get medical care when they need it, and nearly half (46%) say this with regard to getting dental care.
According to the CHCF, Black Californians were more likely to report they face racism that has a powerful effect on their healthcare. Early in 2022 the CHCF released the results of Phase 1 of a study that polled Black Californians from June to August 2021 on their views of their own health and well-being. Key findings included that respondents had experienced widespread racism in their health care.
The Healthiest Places in California
Even though California has some ground to cover in making health care equitable for all, the state is still perceived as a healthy place to live – especially Northern California, where 8 cities were named to a healthiest cities to live in 2020 compilation at this website.
San Francisco, Sacramento and Oakland were among the honored cities. A desire to eat fresh food, love of outdoor activities and top-rated hospital care were some of the reasons the northern portion of the state ranked high. So, it seems that for the most part, if you can afford to live there, you’ll most likely appreciate the healthy aspects of California. But for those who struggle to make ends meet – things are not quite so rosy.
Are You Having Trouble Affording Health Insurance?
If so, call Freeway Insurance at 800-777-5620 to compare insurance companies and get more information on a free rate quote. You can also get a quote for health insurance online or you can stop in one of our convenient locations. Our friendly, helpful customer service representatives can find you cheap insurance to protect your family.