Health and financial security Medicare What's Buzzing

Poll shows most Americans want more than incremental health reforms

Written by Diane Archer

A new Kaiser Health Tracking poll looks at how Americans are feeling about Medicare for All as well as other health care reforms. A solid majority support Medicare for All. They want more than incremental health reforms.

Support for Medicare for All is particularly high, 71 percent, when people understand it would guarantee health care as a right for all Americans. And, it is nearly as high, 67 percent, when people understand it would eliminate insurance premiums and lower out-of-pocket health care costs. Without these explanations, support is still at 56 percent.

That said, a majority of Americans also say they favor reform that offers Medicare as an option and still leaves commercial insurers in the mix. But, for Congress to enact Medicare for All, commercial health insurance cannot remain. It adds no value. It drives up costs and, too often, keeps people from getting the care they want and need. Restricted access to doctors and hospitals, arbitrary delays and denials of care, and high premiums, deductibles and coinsurance are not the solution for fixing our unsustainable health care system.

Moreover, as we know from the commercial Medicare Advantage plans, commercial insurers market to the healthy and steer people in poor health to traditional Medicare. As a result, they make traditional Medicare more costly. Medicare for All is the only way to rein in health care costs and guarantee everyone coverage for care from the doctors and hospitals they want to use.

A lot of Americans, including half of Democrats in Congress, say they support improvements to the Affordable Care Act rather than Medicare for All. But, in many states, the health insurance exchanges work poorly. Premiums are high. The health plans offer poor choices. And, the states lack the will, if not also the skill and the resources to oversee the commercial insurers and ensure they are doing right by their members.

To guarantee everyone in America good affordable coverage, we must transition from the ACA, with its state-based coverage through for-profit commercial insurers. We need one federal plan, that takes the profits out of the system and marshals the negotiating leverage of all 330 million Americans to rein in costs. We must eliminate the endless layers of bureaucracy in our health care system with its attendant costs. And, we must broadly pool and distribute costs across everyone.

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