News and Commentary

New Health Care Survey Shows Some Support For ‘Medicare-For-All,’ But Wording Really Matters

On Wednesday, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) released a new survey which was conducted between April 11-16 and asked 1,203 American “adults ages 18 and over” about issues pertaining to health care.

Here are some of the more interesting findings:

Majority for Medicare

KFF asked: “Do you favor or oppose having a national health plan, sometimes called Medicare-for-all, in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan?”

56% of respondents said that they (strongly or somewhat) favored a Medicare-for-all scheme, while 38% said that they (strongly or somewhat) opposed it.

However, when broken down further, the divide between those who favor or oppose such a system was much closer. While 36% “strongly” favored Medicare-for-all, 28% “strongly” opposed it.

Prescription Drug Costs

When given a list of options, then asked about what Congress’ top priorities should be as it pertains to health care, 68% said that “lowering prescription drug costs for as many Americans as possible” was at the top of their lists. Next up was “making sure the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing health conditions continue,” with 64%.

The closest rival was “protecting people with health insurance from surprise high out-of-network medical bills,” which 50% of respondents indicated should be Congress’ top priority.

It’s All in the Wording

When asked to indicate whether or not a given phrase had a positive or negative connotation, there were sharp differences depending on the way in which a government-run health care plan was termed.

While only 20% and 21% had “very positive” reactions to the phrases “socialized medicine” and “single payer health insurance system,” respectively, 45% and 41% had “very positive” reactions to the phrases “universal health coverage” and “Medicare-for-all,” respectively.

Very similar or identical measures stated differently led to starkly divergent feedback.

Obamacare Has Support

KFF asked: “Would you like to see the Supreme Court overturn the 2010 health care law or not?” A majority of respondents (54%) indicated that they did not want to see it overturned, while a strong minority (39%) indicated the opposite. These answers were based on a “half sample” of 616.

Based on a half sample of 587, a much larger majority (68%) of respondents did not want the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions, while 27% want such protections overturned.

Obamacare vs. Medicare-for-all

There’s a sticking point among Democrats, and that’s the debate between bolstering Obamacare or moving toward a Medicare-for-all plan.

KFF asked: “Do you think Democrats in Congress should focus their efforts on improving and protecting the 2010 Affordable Care Act or should they focus their efforts on passing a national Medicare-for-all plan?”

Despite nearly every Democratic candidate for president calling for a nationalized healthcare plan of some kind, progressive voters are a little more gun shy, with 52% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning respondents indicating that they would rather keep and bolster the ACA, and just 39% indicating a desire for a Medicare-for-all plan.

That being said, those numbers have fluctuated dramatically over the last several months. In March, more Democrats wanted Medicare-for-all (49%) over protecting and improving the ACA (41%). In January, the tables were turned again, with the ACA possessing a 3% edge over Medicare-for-all.


This survey clearly demonstrates two things. First, the wording of political policy dramatically impacts the way it’s perceived. Second, many progressive Americans are having a crisis of identity regarding their position on health care.

Going into the 2020 election cycle, this information should be useful for both Democrats and Republicans.