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Ten years in, Riba shares the legacy and future of CHRT’s Cover Michigan Survey

Melissa Riba, Research and Evaluation Director, Center for Health and Research Transformation (CHRT)

Recently, our research and evaluation team sat down for a 2020 work-planning meeting, and we asked ourselves, “what did we want to accomplish in 2020?” As our conversation focused on the year ahead, it also led me to think about the last ten years of Cover Michigan – the issues and subjects we explored, and the impact that the survey has had.

The initial concept for Cover Michigan was to conduct a consumer survey that regularly explored health, health insurance, and health care access trends across Michigan.

We developed the concept in 2009 to better understand the likely impact of the Affordable Care Act on the state of Michigan and the people who live here. Over the last decade the survey has revealed important trends about health status, health care coverage, and access to health care across populations.

Survey findings

Some of the topics we asked people about included insurance churning and access, satisfaction with health coverage, and wellness and prevention programs – and we learned a lot.

  • In 2013, we found that Michigan’s mental health care system faced significant capacity challenges.
  • In 2015 we learned that cost, not physician choice, was the most important factor for consumers selecting a health plan. And we also learned that race and economic status were strong predictors of whether people had a flu vaccination, and that Michigan had opportunities to improve vaccination rates.
  • In 2016 we found that a substantial share of Michiganders reported having participated in wellness programs – though they perceived limited benefit from those programs – and that those who participated in mental health and stress relief programs reported the greatest perceived benefits.

And of course, it’s always gratifying when a Cover Michigan Survey brief is part of a story in the media, whether it’s regional coverage of our mental health care access survey brief in Crains Detroit or national print stories mentioning our Insurance churning survey findings in The Week or The New Republic.

This partial list of the useful information that has developed from the Cover Michigan survey really just scratches the surface of what we’ve learned and shared at CHRT over the last decade.

Going forward

So the Cover Michigan Survey will continue, and expand.

In the next decade, we will maintain our emphasis on learning about the health of people and communities, and we will continue tracking trends in coverage and access to care.

But we will also increase our focus on the social determinants of health; use new platforms to disseminate what we learn through the survey; and work to expand statewide partnerships that help us provide local and regional health data to inform policy decisions that positively impact the health of people in communities all across Michigan.