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Full Results: The State of Health in Southern California

Full Results: The State of Health in Southern California

The inequalities in healthcare access across the country were brought to the forefront during the pandemic. But now, new research from Families Together of Orange County Community Health Center (FTOC) in partnership with Benenson Strategy Group reveals the extent of that inequality. 

In response to the findings, Families Together is introducing a campaign to get information about essential resources that are available out into the communities that need it most, but it is also calling on local and state entities to champion and support the role that community health centers play in bridging the gap to healthcare access for many of the lowest-income and non-English speaking communities throughout the state.

Our news release with our statement can be found here.

Key Findings

  • 7 in 10 Southern California residents have had to skip out on an essential medical service at some point in their lives
  • 31% of the lowest-income households saw their overall health get worse, while higher-income households were more likely to say that their health improved
  • Non-English speaking households and lower-income households are more likely to have skipped essential care, even before the pandemic
  • 67% of Southern Californians report logistical barriers to getting essential care
  • 57% of Southern Californians say that financial assistance would greatly assist them in accessing healthcare
  • Nearly half of Southern Californians put off a dental exam or a regular physical since March 2020, and plan to get those services in the next year


Overall Wellness Landscape

Income level reveals some of the largest discrepancies in perception of overall physical and mental health and wellness: adults in lower income households rate both their mental and physical health as worse than adults in households with higher incomes.

The pandemic, specifically, has had an unequal impact. While Southern Californians with higher incomes might have had the opportunity to step back and improve their health while spending more time at home, those with less time – more likely to have been “essential workers” – are paying a price.

Current Care Needs

Nearly 7 in 10 say they’ve had to skip a medical service at some point in their lives – and this is an even bigger problem for adults speaking languages other than English.

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Southern Californians are eager to get their health back on track after the pandemic. Nearly half of adults put off a dental exam or regular physical since March 2020 and plan to get those services in the next year.

Barriers to Care

The pandemic was undoubtedly the biggest deterrent for seeking treatment in the past year— yet financial, logistical, and even emotional barriers remain significant and long-term. Financial concerns are significant barriers to care across the board, with nearly 1 in 4 putting off regular check ups for cost reasons – despite the advances made in the past decade on insurance requirements. This shows both an opportunity for affordable care and the importance of communications about the availability of this care.

Mental health treatment is even less accessible and available than general physical healthcare. Particularly among those who report having only fair or poor mental health, affordability and availability of support are lacking. Across the board, Latinos and Non-English speaking respondents reported less access to mental health care services than their counterparts.

How to Help Bridge the Gap

Across groups, information is the most important service that can be provided – followed closely by assistance with payment and insurance in a convenient location. A majority of Southern Californians would also benefit from care coordination – particularly non-English speakers and lower-income adults.


Families Together of Orange County in collaboration with Benenson Strategy Group conducted interviews with 615 adults 18+ in Southern California from June 11 to June 18, 2021. Interviews were conducted over the phone, SMS and online panel. References to children’s health services or pediatric care were asked of those who reported having children under 18 living at home and references to women’s health services were shown only to those who self-identified as women. The sample was weighted to ensure it was proportionately representative of adults in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego and Imperial counties. The margin of error for a sample of this size is ± 3.95%.