Publications / Did Disparities in Access Worsen During the Pandemic?

Did Disparities in Access Worsen During the Pandemic?

Comparing Californians with Medi-Cal and Those with Employer Coverage

Previous research has shown that Medi-Cal enrollees fare worse in accessing health care than Californians with employer coverage. A key question is whether and how access to care shifted during the pandemic for the two groups. For example, did existing differences in access worsen or improve? Have new access challenges emerged for those with Medi-Cal, compared to those with employer coverage?

To answer these questions, authors compared data from the 2017–18 and 2020–21 California Health Interview Survey. Separate analyses were done for adults and children. Key findings include these:

  • Data show that the pandemic did not widen differences in access to care for people with Medi-Cal coverage compared to those with employer coverage. This held true for both adults and children.
  • Rather, among adults, there was some narrowing of differences on select measures. However, this is not a positive development, as it appears to have been caused by worsening access to care for adults with employer coverage during the pandemic rather than improvements for adults with Medi-Cal.

Authors note that a key issue going forward is how the end of the federal Medicaid continuous coverage requirement will impact access to care among Californians.

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