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The Crisis of Affordable Health Care in California: An Examination


Feb 13, 2024

There has been a significant amount of research, analysis, and commentary dedicated to explaining the escalating health costs in California. This resource compiles the most relevant and important data points to tell the story of the health care affordability crisis in the state, including its causes, impact on Californians, and potential solutions. Readers are encouraged to explore the source reports in each section for further details.

The first section addresses the problem of growing health care spending in California. While high or growing health care expenditures are not inherently wrong, it is clear that too much spending in California does not deliver more or better care to its residents. Experts refer to this as “excess spending” and argue that it can be reduced without harming access or quality of care.

The second section covers the sources of excess spending. Independent researchers estimate that 20%–25% of health care spending in California is considered excess spending, equating to roughly $81 billion to $101 billion annually. This section highlights the biggest drivers of excess spending and provides examples.

The next section delves into the impact of health care costs on Californians. Families in California pay for every dollar that goes into the health care system through health insurance premiums, deductibles, forgone wages, and taxes. The section also emphasizes that health care has become unaffordable for many, especially among Black and Latino/x Californians and those with lower incomes.

Finally, the resource discusses possible solutions. It highlights the policy and regulatory options available to California’s Office of Health Care Affordability.

By Editor

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