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Report on California Health Insurance in 2021

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A report from California Health Care Foundation (CHCF), based on the 2021 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), found Employer-sponsored insurance declined significantly and Medi-Cal and individual market coverage held steady. Survey results show the percentage of Californians under age 65 without health insurance, 7.4% in 2021, not significantly different from the prior year.

The California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) is the largest state health survey in the nation. It is a web and telephone survey that asks questions on a wide range of health topics. CHIS is conducted on a continuous basis allowing the survey to generate timely one-year estimates. CHIS provides representative data on all 58 counties in California and provides a detailed picture of the health and health care needs of California’s large and diverse population.. For the 2021 survey, CHIS surveyed 22,661 households in 2020, including 21,949 adults, 1,365 adolescents, and 3,548 children.

Altogether, data from the 2021 CHIS illustrate a surprisingly stable landscape of health insurance coverage. The COVID-19 pandemic — which began in 2020 and continued into 2021 and beyond — had the potential to cause massive losses of health insurance coverage, primarily through declining ESI caused by sharp job losses. But uninsurance rates did not spike, and ESI coverage has not shown dramatic erosion compared to the prepandemic trend.

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