Central Californians favor equal access to medical care, regardless of ability to pay

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Central Californians favor equal access to medical care, regardless of ability to pay

An overwhelming number of Central California residents who participated in a survey last spring believe all citizens, regardless of income, should have equal access to medical care and that the government should help pay for it.

Researcher Dr. Sharron Y. Herron of California State University, Fresno noted the survey is pertinent because of ongoing debates at the national level.

“There has been a call to have everyone insured,” Herron said, “but there has not been an agreement as to who should pay the cost for the insurance.”

Herron, a political science professor, conducted the “Access to Healthcare in Central California” survey under the auspices of the Consortium for Social and Economic Research Centers at Fresno State.

She found that 90 percent of the respondents surveyed in Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties think everyone should have equal access.

In addition, 78 percent said that the government should pay for medical insurance if a person did not have enough money to obtain his or her own coverage.

On a survey question about the reasonableness of health care costs, respondents were split in their evaluations: 63 percent thought costs were “somewhat unreasonable” or “very unreasonable” while nearly 30 percent thought the costs were “very reasonable” or “somewhat reasonable.”

Although majority of respondents think the cost of health care in California is unreasonable, 69 percent believe there are enough doctors to adequately serve the residents in the four-county.

“The responses to this question do not follow the trends in the health care industry, which has repeatedly stated that there is a significant workforce shortage in Central California,” noted Herron.

Related to the adequacy in the number of doctors, 66 percent of those surveyed also think there are enough hospitals in the area to serve the population.

“This is particularly interesting given the hospital closures within the last several years in the region,” said Herron. Since the study was completed, other Central California hospitals have filed for bankruptcy, which may have an impact on access, she said.

Other findings in the survey include:

76 percent of respondents said they had some form of health care coverage. Most said they carry a private plan or held government-sponsored insurance.

41 percent said they thought the amount they paid for health care during the next 12 months would increase, while 46 percent thought payments would stay the same.

62 percent of respondents rated the quality of health care they received in the last year as “very good” or “good.”

75 percent said the government should monitor the quality of health care.

The Consortium of Social and Economic Research Centers comprises Fresno State faculty members and research centers which apply their research skills to examine issues in the San Joaquin Valley. Other CSERC reports have focused on quality of life and urban growth.