2.5.20 / Updates

Americans Don’t Want A One-Size-Fits-All Government Health Insurance System When They Learn The Facts

WASHINGTON – Even as Medicare for All becomes more well-known, a new survey from NORC at the University of Chicago reveals that Americans are “still unclear what exactly the idea would entail,” POLITICO reports

Survey respondents were divided over whether they believed all Americans could enroll in such a plan – a reflection of Democratic candidates’ differing definitions of Medicare for All.  And 52 percent believe they would still be able to keep their current health insurance under the concept.

Previous polling shows that when Americans learn about the unaffordable costs and negative consequences associated with one-size-fits-all new government health insurance systems, support drops.  A national poll conducted last year by Kaiser revealed that support for Medicare for All “drops as low as -44 percentage points” when people find out it would “lead to delays in some people getting some medical tests and treatments,” and “is also negative if people hear it would threaten the current Medicare program (-28 percentage points), require most Americans to pay more in taxes (-23 percentage points), or eliminate private health insurance companies (-21 percentage points).”

Meanwhile, three new polls in the swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin from Third Way “reveal that voters are deeply skeptical about Medicare for All,” and “think Medicare for All will lead to middle-class tax hikes and lower quality of care.”

Voters’ skepticism about Medicare for All begins with the belief that it will raise their taxes.  Half of voters in each of the Blue Wall states believe they will pay much more in taxes personally, and more than two-thirds say it is unlikely that a Medicare for All health care plan could be enacted without raising middle-class taxes.

While large numbers of Blue Wall voters are certain of the costs, there is also a high degree of doubt about the benefits.  By a three-to-one margin, voters in each of the Blue Wall states say they are less confident in the government running the entire health care system compared to the system we have now.  As a result, they are worried about the quality of care.  By huge margins (ranging from 21-points in Wisconsin to 32-points in Michigan), voters think that “Medicare for All would lead to lower-quality care and longer wait times.” 

Some of this skepticism may be because most voters in our poll are satisfied with the coverage they now have.  Sixty-six percent of those with coverage in Pennsylvania, 64% in Michigan, and 62% in Wisconsin rate their current health insurance plan as “excellent” or “good.” 

This tracks closely with a recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Cook Political Report, which finds that nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of swing voters in the states of Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin rate Medicare for All as a “bad idea.”  In fact, The Wall Street Journal reports that in Michigan, “supporters of a single-payer health care system are finding a tough audience.”

A recent poll from Morning Consult and the Bipartisan Policy Center finds that “[i]mproving the current health-care system received the most support among voters, far more than repealing Obamacare or adopting “Medicare-for-All,” Bloomberg reports.  And the second edition of Voter Vitals – a tracking poll conducted nationwide and in 2020 battleground states by Locust Street Group for the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future – which finds that “as voters learn more about new government-run health care proposals, support for them is declining with a majority of voters preferring to build on and improve what we have today rather than start over with Medicare for All or the public option.” 

Other recent national polling backs these findings up:  

  • Kaiser CEO Drew Altman wrote in Axios that support for Medicare for All is “headed in the wrong direction” – meaning down – while “polling shows that support drops much further, and opposition rises, when people hear some of the most common arguments against Medicare for All.” 
  • A national poll from Quinnipiac University, finds that “Medicare for All has grown increasingly unpopular among all American voters,” with a majority saying it’s a “bad idea.”  Medicare for All is “a real problem for … candidates.  Not just because of the cost, but because few swing voters want to dump private health insurance,” Axios adds
  • POLITICO has noted that polls show “growing opposition to ‘Medicare for All’” while a national poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation “probes Democrats’ views about the general approaches to expanding health coverage and lowering costs” and finds that “[m]ost Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (55%) say they prefer a candidate who would build on the Affordable Care Act to achieve those goals.  Fewer (40%) prefer a candidate who would replace the ACA with a Medicare-for-all plan.”
  • A separate poll released by Kaiser in July found support for Medicare for All on the decline, as “a larger share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents would prefer lawmakers build on the existing ACA” and “the share of Democrats who now say they ‘strongly favor’ a national Medicare-for-all plan is down” 12 percentage points in the three months since Kaiser last asked the question.

Meanwhile, a Gallup poll finds that “[s]ome 71% of Americans rate their private coverage as ‘excellent’ or ‘good,’” CNN reports“Americans continue to prefer a healthcare system based on private insurance (54%) over a government-run healthcare system (42),” according to Gallup’s annual Health and Healthcare poll, which finds that a government-controlled health insurance system “remains the minority view in the U.S.  This could create a challenge in a general election campaign for a Democratic presidential nominee advocating a ‘Medicare for All’ or other healthcare plan that would greatly expand the government’s role in the healthcare system.”

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