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SPARQ 'Connect to Health' Study in the News

September 21, 2015

State Has Good Care If You Can Get It, According to Text-Message Study

By David Gorn, California Healthline, Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Low-income Californians with health coverage had an overall positive experience accessing care once they found insurance through the state's health benefit exchange, according to a study released last week.

The study -- conducted by Stanford's SPARQ, or Social Psychological Answers to Real-world Questions, program and the not-for-profit Citizen Insights -- took a novel approach in its attempt to survey low-income Californians. It used text messages.

The survey focused on metropolitan areas around Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose. It had a bifurcated result, with 324 uninsured people generally finding it difficult to get coverage and 500 insured people (of whom 103 found insurance through Covered California) reporting satisfaction with access to care.

The people with insurance reported:

  • Access to care was not a barrier, with 86% of respondents saying it was "easy" or "very easy" to get an appointment;
  • About 69% used their insurance to see a doctor;
  • About three-fourths of respondents (77%) said insurance was affordable for them;
  • 93% said their co-pay charge was affordable; and
  • 84% of respondents liked their provider.

Those without insurance had a different experience:

  • 57% tried and failed to get health insurance;
  • Another 28% were still waiting to hear about their insurance status;
  • Of those uninsured respondents who applied online, 63% reported failure; and
  • 87% of uninsured people who applied by phone reported failure.

Researchers said the study was the first social-media survey to look at the experience of getting and using health insurance in California.

"Our goal … [was] making sure the voices of Californians who are most at-risk of falling through the cracks, low-income people and people of color, are in the feedback loop, said Perla Ni, director at Citizen Insights.

Ni said 52% of respondents were Californians of color.

Alana Conner, executive director at SPARQ, said the survey showed work still needs to be done on getting low-income Californians enrolled.

"We found that once people have insurance, they're quite satisfied with their coverage, its cost and the quality of their health care," Conner said. "But the enrollment process remains a big problem that needs fixing."

Source: California Healthline, Wednesday, May 27, 2015