State Health Survey Shows Decrease in Check-Ups in 2020 Due to Pandemic

By City News Service
City News Service
City News Service
September 22, 2021 Updated: September 23, 2021

LOS ANGELES—California reached record health insurance coverage in 2020, with 94 percent of people covered, but fewer people received routine check-ups, primarily due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey released Sept. 22 by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

The 2020 California Health Interview Survey includes data from 22,661 California households, including 21,949 adults, 1,365 adolescents, and 3,548 children. Of adults participating in the survey, 67.9 percent had a preventive care visit in 2020, down from 71.1 percent in 2019 and marking the lowest number since 2013.

COVID-19 was the main reason participants delayed or went without medical care in 2020, with 21.6 percent saying it was because of the pandemic. For adults 65 and up, 55.2 percent said COVID-19 was the main reason for delaying or forgoing medical care.

“This is one of the most important data releases in the survey’s 20-year history because it sheds light on how impactful the pandemic was on multi-year trends in California for health-related behaviors and access to health care, as well as unfair treatment due to race or ethnicity,” said Todd Hughes, the survey’s director.

“These findings are building on the CHIS preliminary COVID-19 monthly estimates we released starting in September 2020, more than a year in advance of this year’s full release, that provided early monthly data on COVID-19 treatment and vaccine acceptability, as well as personal and financial impacts of the pandemic to aid in the state’s response to the ongoing crisis.”

Just over 15 percent of essential workers surveyed said they had or thought they had COVID-19 in 2020, while 12.1 percent of nonessential workers had or thought they had the virus. However, workers listed as nonessential by the state were slightly more likely to say they would get the COVID-19 vaccine, with 76.7 percent of nonessential workers saying they would get inoculated versus 73.6 percent of essential workers.

The survey also found that the pandemic’s stay-at-home orders created healthier eating habits and less binge drinking for youth, with 2.6 percent of those between 12 and 17 reporting that they engaged in binge drinking in the last month, compared to 7 percent in 2019. The percent of adolescents who ate five or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day increased from 26.1 percent in 2019 to 33.3 percent in 2020.

However, the survey also revealed a 51 percent increase in adolescents reporting being “almost constantly” on the internet.

“Seeing how COVID-19 affected the physical, mental, and emotional health of Californians benefits not only researchers, but also individuals and groups engaged in policy and on-the-ground efforts across the state,” said Ninez Ponce, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research director and CHIS principal investigator.

“Because the targeted data can be acted on, it enables those in power to determine which Californians most need help.”

The California Health Interview Survey is conducted every year to provide health data to policymakers, researchers, health experts, and the media.

The survey was adapted in 2020 to include questions about the COVID-19 pandemic.