Commonwealth Fund: A quarter of voters back 'Medicare for All,' but many feel uninformed on the issue 

A political sign reading "Medicare for All: Healthcare is a right"
A new Commonwealth Fund survey examines voters' attitudes toward health coverage. (Senate Democrats/CC BY 2.0)

With healthcare set to be one of the defining issues of the 2020 election, a new Commonwealth Fund survey examines voters’ attitudes about their health coverage. 

The key takeaway? Overall support for moving to a single-payer health system is low, but that’s because many voters feel they’re not informed enough to have an opinion on the matter. 

The survey includes responses from 4,914 adults aged 19 to 64, with 27% saying they support a “Medicare-for-All” approach that would eliminate private coverage. Forty percent, meanwhile, said they don’t know enough to say one way or the other, and 32% oppose. 

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Support was highest among Democrats in the survey, with 43% saying they back a single-payer system. Just 12% of Republicans said the same, along with 27% of independent voters. 

RELATED: Verma tells insurers to adopt reforms or face extinction through ‘Medicare for All’ 

Democrats were also the most likely to say they wanted more information about single-payer before taking a stance, with 41% saying they do not feel informed enough to have an opinion. Thirty-eight percent of independents also said they are not knowledgeable enough to voice an opinion. 

By contrast, opposition was by far the highest among Republicans, with 60% saying they’re against Medicare for All.

“Healthcare and health insurance coverage will remain at the forefront of the national debate as they are central to people’s well-being and financial security,” David Blumenthal, M.D., president of the Commonwealth Fund, said in a briefing Wednesday with reporters. 

Here’s a look at some of the survey’s other findings: 

  • While voters are unsure about single-payer, Medicaid expansion is popular. More than two-thirds of those surveyed (68%) supported expanding the program in the 17 states that had yet to do so under the Affordable Care Act. Support was highest among Democrats, with 91% backing expansion, while most independents (74%) agreed. Republicans were more divided, with 42% supporting continued expansion and 48% opposing. 

  • Most people are satisfied with the coverage they have, with those enrolled in employer plans or Medicaid the most satisfied. Overall, 85% said they were either very or somewhat satisfied with their health plans, with 90% on Medicaid, 85% in employer plans and 74% of those in individual market plans satisfied. 

  • Cost concerns are still a major worry, however, the survey found. Thirty-eight percent of those with insurance said they were either not at all confident or not too confident they could afford healthcare expenses if they became seriously ill, and 72% of the uninsured said the same. 

  • Relatively few people dropped out of health coverage following the individual mandate repeal. Just over half (54%) said they were aware of the policy change, and 24% dropped out of their health plans in 2019 as a result. 

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