The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research has released the results of the nation’s largest state health survey: the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). The data encompasses more than 100 topics affecting the health and well-being of California residents. The random telephone survey, which is conducted every two years, gathers essential information from tens of thousands of California households on a wide variety of topics, from health insurance and public program participation to diabetes, obesity, and cancer screening. The latest survey also includes new questions on suicide, emergency preparedness, medical homes, veteran status, registered domestic partner status, flu shots, and pre-diabetes. The data can be reviewed by state, region and county at www.askchis.com, the survey’s free, easy-to-use online data search tool. (A quick tutorial on how to use the search tool is also available.) The data reveals that 7 million Californians are currently uninsured; however, up to two-thirds of them (4.7 million residents) may become eligible for insurance coverage if healthcare reform goes forward in its present form. That situation is by no means a certainty because of challenges to the law based on its constitutionality and financial impact.
The CHIS data, collected in 2009 in the midst of the severe economic downturn, may also help provide a snapshot of California under duress. The various cycles of the survey (previous cycles were conducted for 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007) may also give policymakers, researchers, health experts and organizations, and the media a baseline from which to work as healthcare reform is implemented in 2014. Although most would agree that healthcare reform is indicated, many feel that modification to varying degrees of the current proposals are necessary.
The survey respondents included adults, teenagers, and children from a wide range of ethnic groups and socioeconomic levels. As such, CHIS represents the most reliable source of data on the health of Californians, as well as on many little-studied ethnic groups.
Facts about the latest survey:
- Large survey: 49,811 households, including 47,614 adults and 12,324 teens and children.
- Diversity: it includes data on groups that are underrepresented in almost all other health surveys, including Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans, and Asians (Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese and South Asians).
- Inclusion of cellphone users: mobile devices have become increasingly popular.
- Sexual minorities: data on gays, lesbians, and bisexuals is included.
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