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The Pandemic Has Disrupted Healthcare Delivery Across California, Blue Shield of California/Harris Poll Finds

A strong majority, 80%, of Californians say they have good, or at least somewhat good, quality health care, but many say the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the health care they receive – 41% say it’s become harder to get care in the last year, 40% say they, or someone in their family, have put off care and 26% say the quality of care they received has worsened since the pandemic

Just 6% rated their care “very poor quality.”

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But the industry’s expansion of telemedicine helped: 49% said they had a telemedicine visit during the pandemic, just 39% said they had done so before COVID-19. And 82% who used telemedicine were satisfied with the service.

The findings are the result of the Blue Shield of California/Harris Poll conducted Feb. 2. to Feb. 15. The poll of 1,000 adults in California aimed at gauging access to health care, comfort levels with workplace and public safety, and opinions of healthcare policy. 

The poll represents a broad swath of Californians – privately insured, uninsured, MediCal recipients, self-insured and more – Blue Shield of California has 4.4 million members, the state has 40 million residents.

This installment is the first of two parts. Vital Signs: The Pulse of California, examines health care in the age of pandemic. The second, Health Care for All, looks, through the poll data, at the state’s demographics to understand which communities the system is reaching and who struggles to get care.

Some context: the poll was planned and conducted before Blue Shield of California was tapped by the State of California to oversee COVID-19 vaccine distribution as a “third party administrator” or TPA. 

The poll reflects Blue Shield’s commitment to providing equitable care to all communities and is part of this year’s annual Mission Report which outlines our efforts to bring health care worthy of our family and friends to all Californians in 2020. 

“At Blue Shield, we are working to ensure that every strategy, program, policy and process leads us to a more equitable health care system for all," said Peter Long, senior vice president, chief healthcare transformation and affordability officer at Blue Shield. "Health Reimagined, our ambitious plan to transform health care, is grounded in health equity. That means we will fundamentally change how we operate to reduce health disparities for our members, as well as drive changes that promote health equity at the systemic level.”

Blue Shield commissioned the poll to better understand not only how the pandemic had changed health care in the state, but to assess the system’s ability to reach people and provide quality services. The poll’s findings were not surprising: people of color, those with low incomes, and young adults were more likely to say they had a hard time accessing care

But by understanding the scale and identifying struggling groups, we can better grasp who needs access to quality health care.

Blue Shield has a long record of advocacy to bring health care to all residents, both through its nonprofit insurance business and the Blue Shield of California Foundation. But the survey underscores what we’ve been saying – and trying to do – for a long while: let’s get everyone in California affordable, quality care.


Healthcare Satisfaction

Californians like their health care: A vast majority, 80%, of Californians are satisfied with the health care they receive.


Hispanics (28%), African Americans (28%), young adults 18-34 years old (31%) and those making less than $50,000 annually (27%) were more likely to say they receive poor, or very poor, quality care. Asians (92%) and those over 55 years old (92%) were more likely to say they receive good or very good quality care. View the data.






Quality of care got worse for some groups: Hispanics (32%), young adults, 18-34 years old (35%) and those making less than $50,000 annually (31%) were more likely to say quality of care has become worse personally. For young adults (19%) also said they had received better quality care. View the data.


View the data


Californians were more likely to say they are willing to take a COVID-19 vaccine than national polls suggest the rest of the country is. In California, women (19%) and adults 35-54 years old (20%) were more likely to say no to taking the vaccine. Just 6% of men and 7% of those 55 or older said they would not take the vaccine. View the data.



Young adults saw a wide disparity in experience. Nearly half (49%) of those 18-34 said it had become more difficult, 28% said it had become easier. African Americans (47%), Hispanics (47%) and those making less than $50,000 (47%) were more likely to say it was more difficult – with 31% of low-income adults saying it had become much more difficult. View the data.


Healthcare Delivery, Telehealth


Those making less than $50,000 annually were more likely (38%) to have not seen a provider. View the data.



More than three out of four, 76%, of those 55 or older said no. View the data.



Nine out of 10 of those 55 or older said no. View the data.



Thirty-nine percent were "satisfied." View the data.


Healthcare Policy and COVID-19


Support was higher for a single-payer system by adults 18-34 (65%), African Americans (61%) and those making less than $50,000 annually (63%). View the data.

Support of all these initiatives has grown since the pandemic: 41% say they've become more supportive of a 'single payer' system, compared to 25% who are less supportive; 50% are more supportive of a public option, compared to 19% who are less supportive. 49% are more supportive of ACA expansion, compared to 21% who are less supportive. View the data.


Workplace and COVID-19


View the data


 View the data.


View the data