New Research Findings Illuminates Strategy for Improving Healthcare Quality, Reducing Costs in California

Majority of low-income Californians want more information and more involvement in health care decisions

San Francisco, September 10, 2012 – A new statewide survey of low-income Californians reveals that a majority of poor and near poor would take a more active role in their healthcare if they received more guidance about treatment options from their providers.

The study comes on the heels of a major Institute of Medicine report, which singles out “patient engagement” as a key strategy for improving health outcomes and reducing costs.

“Most of what ultimately makes a person healthy happens away from the doctor’s office,” said Peter Long, Ph.D., president and CEO of Blue Shield of California Foundation. “The more we can engage patients to be partners in their own care, the healthier they—and our entire healthcare system—will be.”

The survey, conducted by Langer Research Associates, underscores the role of information and communication in advancing patient-centered care. According to the report, “well-informed patients are much more likely than others to be confident about taking an active role in their care decisions, to feel comfortable asking questions of their care providers and to report that they understand their providers’ explanations.”

To read the latest report, click here.

Key findings of the new study, which surveyed Californians below 200 percent of the poverty level (about $46,000 per year for a family of four), include:

  • Nearly seven in 10 of those who feel very informed about their health also feel very confident in their ability to make healthcare decisions. Strong confidence falls to 44 percent among those who feel less than very well-informed.
  • Among patients who feel informed about their health, 67 percent say they’re very comfortable asking questions of their provider. Among those who feel less informed, comfort asking questions drops by half, to 33 percent. 
  • Among patients who feel highly informed about their health, 61 percent say they always understand their providers’ advice and treatment plans. That declines to 34 percent of those who feel just “somewhat” informed and 18 percent of those who feel less informed about their health.
  • Involvement in care is 19 points higher among patients who are very confident in their ability to make health decisions than among the less confident, 81 percent vs. 62 percent.

This study builds upon findings from an earlier report released in June. That report found that many patients want closer, more continuous personal relationships with providers and staff at their care facilities than they have now and that, when present, such relationships produce greater patient self-efficacy and satisfaction alike.

About the Survey
Blue Shield of California Foundation’s survey of low-income Californians is based on interviews with a random statewide sample of 1,024 Californians ages 19 to 64 with household incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Langer Research Associates of New York, NY managed, designed and analyzed the survey and wrote the report. SSRS/Social Science Research Solutions of Media, PA conducted the sampling, data collection and tabulation. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 points for the full sample.

About Blue Shield of California Foundation
Blue Shield of California Foundation is one of the state’s largest healthcare grantmaking organizations. For more information, please visit: The Foundation was formed by Blue Shield of California, a not-for-profit corporation with more than 3.4 million members, 4,800 employees and 20 offices throughout California. Visit: