With the rollout of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) health care plan on Friday, a “Medicare for All” style system has now been officially proposed by two of the most popular Democratic presidential candidates.
Multiple analyses have concluded that Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “Medicare for All” plan would cost as much as $32 trillion over a decade. Warren claims her plan would require approximately $20.5 trillion in “new” federal spending.
Many progressive commentators and politicians claim that “Medicare for All,” or its more general counterpart, “Universal coverage,” is popular among voters. Poll after poll appear to suggest the same thing – except upon closer inspection, that’s not quite the case.
In February, The Hill-HarrisX released a survey that asked respondents the following question about health care: “Which of the following comes closest to your views?”
- 15% of respondents said that “the government should remove itself from paying for all health care.”
- 14% said “the current health care system should be kept as is.”
- 26% said “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.”
- 32% said “Medicare/Medicaid should be expanded to cover all citizens regardless of age or income but people should be able to purchase private supplemental plans.”
- 13% said “Medicare/Medicaid should be expanded to cover all citizens regardless of age or income and private health plans should be abolished.”
A July poll from NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist asked respondents if “Medicare for all, that is a national health insurance program for all Americans that replaces private health insurance,” was a “good idea” or a “bad idea.” 41% said it was a “good idea,” while 54% said it was a “bad idea.”
An August survey by Monmouth University asked: “Which of the following comes closest to how you would like to see health care handled: A) Get rid of all private insurance coverage in favor of having everyone on a single public plan like Medicare for All, B) Allow people to either opt into Medicare or keep their private coverage … or D) Keep the health insurance system basically as it is?”
Only 22% selected A, while 53% selected B, and 11% selected D.
In September, NBC News/Wall Street Journal released a survey in which respondents were asked if they supported a Medicare for All-style system in which “private health insurance would be eliminated.” 22% said they “strongly support” such a system, 19% said they “somewhat support,” while 44% said they “strongly oppose,” and 12% said they “somewhat oppose.” That’s a combined 41% supporting such a system, and 56% opposing it.
In October, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) asked respondents: “Would you favor or oppose a national Medicare-for-all plan if you heard that it would … eliminate private health insurance companies?” While 37% said they would favor such a plan, 58% said they would oppose it.
What these surveys demonstrate is that once the glossy buzzphrase of “Medicare for All” is wiped away, and the American people are faced with the elimination of private insurance, the majority react negatively. Despite this fact, Sen. Sanders and Sen. Warren, two of the leading Democratic candidates for president, have put out plans that would indeed eliminate private insurance.