By Rebecca Mayo, J.D.
A new poll shows that majorities favor a national Medicare-for-all health plan or favor a public option, and prescription drug costs and pre-existing condition protections are top health priorities to voters.
As we get closer to the Democratic primary, coverage of the Democratic presidential candidates’ proposals for a Medicare-for-all health plan or public option has expanded. The public, and especially Democratic voters, are now more aware of the potential impacts of these proposals than they were just six months ago, according to a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The poll showed that a majority of Americans support one of the proposals and nearly half support both proposed systems. The poll also showed that Americans are concerned about rising prescription drug costs and the risk of losing pre-existing condition protections if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is overturned.
Understanding. Coverage of major health care issues and reform options has expanded as the Democratic presidential candidates have made health care reform major parts of their platforms. As a result, more Democrats have a better understanding of the major concepts and policy implications of the Medicare-for-all and public option proposals. Democrats are more likely to say that individuals would not continue to pay health insurance premiums under Medicare-for-all, and that people would not face deductibles or other cost sharing. They are also more likely to say that under Medicare-for-all people who purchase their own plans and people with employer-sponsored insurance would not be able to keep their current plans. Eight in ten Americans think taxes for most people would increase under both proposals, however more adults think that all Americans would have health insurance coverage under a Medicare-for-all system than under a public option.
Proposal support. Eighty-five percent of Democrats support a public option, while 77 percent of Democrats support a Medicare-for-all health plan. Seventy-three percent of independents support a public option and 61 percent support Medicare-for-all. Most Republicans oppose both, however 42 percent support a public option.
Priorities. Half of the public hold favorable opinions of the ACA, while 37 percent hold a negative opinion, which is consistent with the views over the past two years. Most Americans are concerned that they or someone in their family would lose coverage if the Supreme Court overturns the ACA or even just its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Lowering prescription drug costs and continuing the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions lead the public’s health care priorities for Congress at the start of this election year. However, only nine percent say they have heard "a lot" about the pending court case that seeks to overturn the entire ACA, including its pre-existing condition protections.
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