Californians and chronic disease: 11.4 million adults in state have a chronic condition

A new almanac co-authored by UCLA Center for Health Policy Research reports four in 10 California adults report having at least one chronic condition.

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Four in 10 California adults -- 11.4 million people -- report having at least 1 of 5 top chronic conditions, according to a new "health care almanac" published by the California HealthCare Foundation. In the report, Center Senior Research Scientist Ying-Ying Meng and co-authors use 2011-2012 data from the California Health Interview Survey to examine five major chronic conditions -- asthma, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and serious psychological distress -- and how they affect the lives of Californians.

Key findings include:

  • About 40 percent of California adults reported having at least one of the five chronic conditions studied.

  • High blood pressure in the most common chronic condition among Californians, affecting about one in four, or 7.6 million, adults in California.

  • As household income rises, the prevalence of chronic conditions falls. Adults living under 138 percent of the federal poverty level were more likely to have two or more chronic conditions (14 percent) than those in the highest income group, 400+ percent of the federal poverty level (8 percent).

  • Many people with chronic conditions delay getting needed care. Of Californians with serious psychological distress, 34 percent delayed needed medical care, and 27 percent delayed filling prescriptions. Cost or lack of insurance was frequently cited as the reason for these delays.

  • The prevalence of chronic conditions increases with age. Of Californians age 65 or older, 70 percent have at least one chronic condition, compared to 26 percent of those age 18 to 39.

  • The proportion of California adults with chronic conditions varied by region. About 45 percent of adults in the Inland Empire, San Joaquin Valley, and Northern and Sierra counties had at least one chronic condition, compared to 36 percent of adults in Orange County.

Read the almanac: Californians with Top Chronic Conditions: 11 Million and Counting