As Democratic presidential candidates continue to push for a single-payer government health care system (with Medicare for All being the plan de jour), it is becoming increasingly clear that the majority of the American public has no idea what such a plan would mean for them.
Under Medicare for All — a plan actively pushed by democratic socialists Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — and any other single-payer system, the public would get their insurance through a single government plan, wiping out private health care.
But most Americans — including two-thirds of Democrats — believe people would get to keep their private insurance under a single-payer government plan, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Don't understand the cost
And the plan wouldn't be cheap. For example, a study published last July by the Mercatus Center revealed that the "conservative" cost estimate for the Sanders plan is $32.6 trillion over the next 10 years.
Yet, the newly released Kaiser study found that for a plurality of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters the most important health care issue they want to see discussed by Democratic candidates is "lowering the amount people pay for health care."
Those same voters — whose top priority is lower health care costs — revealed to KFF that they know taxes for most Americans (including themselves) would increase under Medicare for All. Nearly 80 percent of all Americans surveyed said taxes would go up under a national health plan. That figure includes 71 percent of Democrats.
Don't understand that private health care would be no more
Not only is there a lack of understanding of the cost of single-payer health care, a significant share of Americans (including Republicans) don't realize that private coverage would no longer be how they get insurance.
Forty percent of those polled by Kaiser believe private insurance would still be the primary way Americans get health coverage under Medicare for All. This includes 39 percent of Democrats, 42 percent of independents, and 38 percent of Republicans.
Most Americans (55 percent) also believe that people who have private insurance would get to keep their plans — despite the fact that the point of a single-payer government plan is the opposite.
Two-thirds of Democrats said that those who have insurance through their jobs or who bought their own insurance would get to keep those plans if they desired, and more than half of independents agreed. Just over 40 percent of Republicans said the same.
Support for single-payer grows — except among doctors
Despite the clear lack of understanding of single-payer health care, support for such a plan has grown among Americans. A recent KFF poll found that 56 percent of Americans support single-payer government insurance.
And most of the Democrats running for the party's 2020 presidential nomination are running on the benefits of single-payer.
But one important group has remained steadfast in its opposition to single-payer plans: doctors. The American Medical Association voted again last week to reject single-payer in all its iterations. The AMA's opposition to single-payer plans stems from the fact that such a system will cause provider payments to be decreased and limit patients' choices on services.