Access, affordability and respect: California survey shows benefits of having a primary care provider
For the past three years, the California Health Care Foundation has conducted a survey of residents’ perspectives on a variety of health care topics. For the first time in 2021, residents were asked if they had a “regular primary care provider”.
This report provides examples of the benefits associated with having a primary care provider among insured residents. (Those without insurance were excluded from the analysis.) It demonstrates significant differences between insured Californians who have a primary care provider and those who do not on topics related to health care utilization, experience, affordability and health behaviors.
- Californians with a primary care provider report seeking and receive more physical health care in the past 12 months including using video care for telehealth than those without a primary care provider. They are also less likely to skip or postpone healing due to cost.
- Californians with a Primary Care Provider Report fewer language, distance and affordability barriers to appropriate care than those without a primary care provider. Californians without a primary care provider are more likely to face barriers to accessing care they could afford, easy-to-access care, a doctor who speaks the same language, a doctor who shares the same background or experiences and to a doctor who treats them with dignity and respect. These findings imply that having a primary care provider can facilitate both access to and utilization of needed care.
- Californians without a primary care provider are more likely to report having negative experiences with health care providers. These experiences include being talk tohave a doctor assume something about them without asking, asking a doctor to suggest that they were personally responsible for his health problemhave a doctor refuse a test or medication that the patient thought he needed, or had a doctor not listening or not believing what they were saying. Because negative experiences with health care providers can deter patients from seeking treatment, Californians without a primary care provider may continue to have their care needs unmet as a result of these experiences.
- Californians without a primary care provider are more likely to report concerns about coverage of certain health costs and to point out that this concern has led to adjourn or delay necessary care. This group is also more likely to say delaying care because of cost worsened their health. Although these results may be more indicative of perceptions health care costs rather than actual financial barriers, the perception of costs can influence the likelihood that a person will seek the care they need. It appears that having a primary care provider can reduce the perceived burden of health care costs, which can empower people to address health issues before their condition worsens.
- Positive health behaviors are more frequently reported by Californians having a primary care provider, including making health a priority, speaking up during a doctor’s visit, and getting appropriate screening and preventive care.
The positive benefits associated with the presence of a primary care provider suggest that ensuring access to a primary care provider may have implications for improving health equity, particularly for Latinos/x Californians, who are the least likely to report having a primary care provider.
This publication is part of CHCF’s work on investing in primary care in California. For more information, visit the Primary Care Resource Centre.