Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: December 2015

By Bianca DiJulio, Jamie Firth, and Mollyann Brodie
Kaiser Family Foundation, December 17, 2015

From the Tracking Poll:

As the presidential primaries inch closer and candidates begin to debate the intricacies of their platforms, a long-discussed health policy option has reemerged in debate between democratic candidates; the idea of creating a national health plan in which all Americans would get their insurance through an expanded, universal form of health insurance called Medicare-for-all.  When asked their opinion, nearly 6 in 10 Americans (58 percent) say they favor the idea of Medicare-for-all, including 34 percent who say they strongly favor it. This is compared to 34 percent who say they oppose it, including 25 percent who strongly oppose it. Opinions vary widely by political party identification, with 8 in 10 Democrats (81 percent) and 6 in 10 independents (60 percent) saying they favor the idea, while 63 percent of Republicans say they oppose it.

From the Press Release:

Recently Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated the idea of “Medicare-for-all,” which involves creating a national health plan in which all Americans would get their insurance through an expanded version of the Medicare program. A large majority of Democrats (81%) support the idea of Medicare-for-all, as do most independents (60%), while most Republicans (63%) oppose the idea. The poll did not ask about details or tradeoffs.

At the same time, few Democrats say the issue will be the driving force behind their vote: just 5 percent of Democrats say that it will be the single most important factor in their presidential vote. A third of Democrats (34%) say it will be very important, but not the most important factor, while others say it will be one of many factors they will consider (36%) or that it won’t matter at all (5%). Future polls may explore the issue in greater depth.

KFF December 2015 Tracking Poll:


Press Release:


Many political insiders contend that a single payer national health program – an improved Medicare for all – is off the table, so essentially all current political efforts are directed to paring back or modifying the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare. Bernie Sanders does not agree and has injected Medicare for all back into the political arena. So what do Americans think about Medicare for all?

This new poll shows that there has been no decline in support of Medicare for all in that  58 percent of Americans still support the concept, in spite of implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Although there is a partisan divide – 81 percent of Democrats support it and 63 percent of Republicans are opposed – it should be noted that 60 percent of independents also support the idea.

Although this poll did not identify reasons for the opinions, it is likely that many who do not support the concept are simply ideologically opposed to social solidarity, though they would likely use different labels (freedom, markets, individual responsibility, etc.). Others may be opposed because they believe the system is working for them and are concerned about the uncertainties of change.

The poll asked Democrats who support Medicare for all whether this issue might affect their vote in the 2016 presidential election. Although they report that only 5 percent of all Democrats consider it to be the most important factor in their vote, in fact most Democrats do consider it to be a factor to some degree, with only 5 percent saying that it is not important.

So now that the Affordable Care Act has been implemented, Americans still want something better. The majority of Americans, including the majority of independents, support Medicare for all. Let’s work on it.