Apparently even a significant number of *Democrats* don't want private major medical insurance completely eliminated...EVER. Huh.
I've written many times before about how polling on the issue of "Medicare for All" has consistently proven that many Americans are confused about what the phrase actually means.
While a majority of the country keeps saying they want "Medicare for All", poll after poll has shown that a huge chunk of those who say so think it means "Medicare for All Who Want It"...that is, they think it refers to a Public Option, where it's up to them whether their major medical coverage would be public or private. This is true even among Democrats, who obviously support the concept in higher numbers than Republicans or Independents.
Yesterday a new poll came out from Monmouth University which mostly just confirms this point...
On the issue of health care, 58% of party voters say it is very important to them that the Democrats nominate someone who supports “Medicare for All.” Another 23% say it is somewhat important, 10% say it is not important, and 9% are unsure. However, it is not clear that Medicare for All means the same thing to all voters. When asked specifically about what type of health insurance system they prefer, 53% of Democratic voters say they want a system that offers an opt in to Medicare while retaining the private insurance market. Just 22% say they want to move to a system where Medicare for All replaces private insurance. Another 7% prefer to keep insurance private for people under 65 but regulate the costs and 11% want to leave the system basically as it is now.
However, the Monmouth poll also adds another twist to this dynamic:
Those who prefer a public option are divided into two camps that include 18% who would like to move to a universal public insurance system eventually and 33% who say that there should always be the choice of private coverage. In other words, only 4-in-10 Democrats want to get rid of the private insurance market when the 22% who want Medicare for All now are combined with the 18% who would like to move to a universal public system at some point in the future.
This actually surprised me. While I've long known that there were a lot of Democrats who preferred a public option, even I've assumed that just about all of that subgroup saw a public option as a temporary thing intended purely to humor people and allay fears among those worried about abrupt change...that is, that the idea was for private insurance enrollment to gradually dwindle down to nothing.
Instead, assuming these results are accurate--and I admit there's a lot of experts saying that this particular poll from Monmouth is an outlier, especially given the small pool of Democrats (298 people) and the large margin of error (+/- 5.7 points)--it sounds like even among Democrats, there's a significant number of people who are perfectly OK with maintaining some sort of public/private hybrid system even long term...as long as the private carriers are strongly regulated, I presume.
The larger takeaway, of course, is this:
“We asked the public option question in our Iowa poll earlier this month and got a lot of flak from Medicare for All advocates who claim that polls show widespread support for their idea. It seems from these results, though, the term has a wide range of meanings among Democratic voters. Many conflate the public-only program name with a public option. There is a lot more nuance in public opinion on this issue that could become problematic for proponents as voters become more familiar with what Medicare for All actually entails,” said Murray.
This is precisely why, while I'm a staunch advocate of the Medicare for America plan , I'd be pretty happy with several of the other bills/plans on the table as well, at least in the short term.