On Tuesday, The Hill-HarrisX released a new poll on the public perception of various kinds of health care.
While health care is always a hot topic, the 2020 Democratic presidential race has served to magnify the issue, with candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) very publicly pushing government-run systems that would eliminate private insurance. Other Democratic candidates, such as Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have hedged, arguing instead for a hybrid system that wouldn’t eliminate private insurance entirely – at least at the start.
The poll, which was conducted between September 20-21, asked 1,000 registered voters which statement about health care “comes closest” to their view.
Coming out on top with 27% was the following statement: “Medicare/Medicaid should be expanded to cover all citizens regardless of age or income, but people should be able to purchase private supplemental plans.”
In second place with 25%: “Any citizen should be able to sign up for Medicare/Medicaid regardless of age or income while those with private plans could keep their existing insurance.”
In third place with 19%: “The current healthcare system should be kept as is.”
In fourth place with 18%: “The government should remove itself from paying for all health care.”
In a distant fifth place with just 10% was this statement: “Medicare/Medicaid should be expanded to cover all citizens regardless of age or income and private health plans should be abolished.”
For those keeping track, that’s 89% of voters who, to varying degrees, don’t believe that private health care should be abolished versus 10% who do. Moreover, 18% want the government out of health care altogether. For the Democratic presidential candidates advocating single-payer health care systems, those numbers represent quite a blow.
Further, this isn’t the only poll in which respondents have noted a distaste for government-run systems.
A Politico/Morning Consult survey, conducted between June 29 and July 1, asked 1,472 registered voters, “Do you support or oppose … a ‘Medicare for All’ health care system, where all Americans would get their health insurance from the government?”
30% of respondents “strongly support,” 23% “somewhat support,” 23% “strongly oppose,” and 13% “somewhat oppose.”
However, respondents were then asked: “Do you support or oppose … the public health insurance option, a system in which Americans can choose to purchase medical coverage either entirely from a federally-run health program, entirely from private insurers, or a combination of both?”
When the question included the idea of maintaining the choice of private insurance, the answers changed pretty dramatically: 33% “strongly support,” 35% “somewhat support,” 8% “strongly oppose,” and 9% “somewhat oppose.”
Lastly, the survey asked, “Would you support or oppose ‘Medicare for All’ if it diminished the role of private insurers?” 24% “strongly support,” 22% “somewhat support,” 26% “strongly oppose,” and 9% “somewhat oppose.”
The results show that when private insurance maintains a presence in the question, favorability for a government-run option goes up. When private insurance is “diminished,” support goes down.
The plans proffered by the likes of Sanders and some of his colleagues would eliminate private insurance altogether. However, because the Politico/Morning Consult survey doesn’t explicitly ask respondents about such an option, the Hill-HarrisX poll is vital in gauging the feelings of the American people regarding a Medicare-for-All plan that would eliminate private insurance.