Two new studies from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research paint a portrait of who might be eligible for two new health care reform initiatives in California as of 2014: the California Health Benefits Exchange and the expansion of Medi-Cal. The upshot: both programs will largely serve the working-age, singles, or men — populations who may be least likely to excessively use costly health services.
“This is California’s workforce,” notes lead researcher Nadereh Pourat, who authored both studies. “Younger, relatively healthy and, in many cases, male, they have been blocked from access to insurance from high costs and deductibles.”
Up to 4.57 million previously ininsured Californians are likely to be eligible to participate in both programs. Of these, 2.13 million will gain coverage through the expansion of Medi-Cal, the state’s health care program for low-income Californians. An additional 1.71 million uninsured and 737,000 Californians with individual policies may gain coverage through the Exchange, a newly-established marketplace for health care plans with subsidies for lower-income Californians.
Both studies used data from the recently-released 2009 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) to look at a range of characteristics for both newly-eligible populations and found that lack of insurance was clearly linked to poor access to care and that even those Californians with individual insurance policies had more problems accessing care and prescription drugs than those with employer-based coverage. The studies also found that those likely to be eligible for both programs tended to be as healthy as those with employer based coverage.
View both studies here.