Fordham University, April 29, 2020
Despite apparent gaps in the United States’ healthcare system during the coronavirus outbreak, Americans are generally satisfied with the healthcare system’s performance, according to a new poll from Fordham University. The crisis may, however, be driving more Americans to support a government-run healthcare system. At this point, Americans also express support for guaranteed quality healthcare for all Americans, those infected with the coronavirus, and other groups, regardless of party affiliation. Support for access to quality care regardless of citizenship status is also widespread.
The poll, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, took place from April 16 through 20, 2020, among 1,003 respondents nationwide. It has a margin of sampling error of 4.33 percentage points. The poll is a product of the Fordham Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ Advanced Certificate in Public Opinion and Survey Research and its M.A. in Elections and Campaign Management.
Support for Single-Payer Healthcare during the Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic may be influencing Americans’ support for a single-payer healthcare system. When asked to choose between a single-payer system and a system based mostly on private insurance, a slim 53% majority of Americans now choose a single-payer system with 44% preferring insurance-based. Five months ago, pre-coronavirus, when Gallup asked a similar question the numbers were the reverse – 42% and 54% respectively.
Not surprisingly there are large partisan differences on this issue. Majorities of Democrats (68%) and independents (57%) would prefer a single-payer system in the midst of the pandemic, but nearly three-quarters (72%) of Republicans would rather have a system based primarily on private insurance.
Q: If you had to choose which of the following two approaches for providing healthcare in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States would you prefer–a government-run healthcare system, or a system based mostly on private health insurance?
Government run system:
- 53% – Total
- 68% – Democrat
- 57% – Ind/Other
- 27% – Republican
System based on private insurance:
- 44% – Total
- 26% – Democrat
- 41% – Ind/Other
- 72% – Republican
Perceptions of Government’s Healthcare Responsibilities
We asked Americans about the federal government’s responsibility to provide quality healthcare to various groups of Americans: the poor, senior citizens, veterans, those infected with the coronavirus, and all Americans. Majorities of all partisan affiliations agreed it was the federal government’s responsibility to provide healthcare to each of the groups.
Those who agree it is the federal government’s responsibility to provide quality healthcare for all Americans:
- 87% – Democrat
- 80% – Independent/Other
- 59% – Republican
For most of the target groups, the majority support for guaranteed quality healthcare is sizable. Only for guaranteeing healthcare to all Americans does a deep partisan divide develop – a smaller majority of Republicans – 59% – support guaranteed quality care for all, compared to seven-in-ten or more of Republicans that support the same for each of the other target groups. (Full results at link below)
Healthcare Coverage for Non-Citizens
Americans are also supportive of providing healthcare to non-citizens when it comes to the coronavirus outbreak. Nearly eight-in-ten respondents believe people should have access to quality medical care regardless of citizenship status, with half of all Americans strongly believing so. Here again, majorities of all parties are supportive of such access.
By Don McCanne, M.D.
So this is yet one more poll that shows that a majority of Americans would prefer a “government run system,” though the number is not quite as high as other polls since 72% of Republicans preferred the option of a “system based on private insurance.”
The more significant finding in this poll is that a strong majority, including 59% of Republicans, agree that “it is the federal government’s responsibility to provide quality healthcare for all Americans.” Also, almost all agree, including 66% of Republicans, that during the coronavirus attack “people should have access to quality medical care, regardless of citizenship status.”
It is reassuring to see that there is strong agreement that the government needs to be involved in providing health care for all. We just have to do a better job in explaining to Republicans why an improved version of Medicare would be better than relying on private insurers.
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