Nearly half of adults haven’t heard of Medicare for all

Nearly half––46 percent––of adults reported they had not heard of a health policy known as Medicare for all, according to a recent AmeriSpeak Spotlight on Health survey from NORC at the University of Chicago.

Among the survey respondents, 40 percent said they heard some talk about Medicare for all, while 13 percent said they have heard a lot about it.

The findings reveal that even as more Democrats adopt Medicare for all as part of their platform, many U.S. adults are still not informed about the policy, which would create a government-funded healthcare system for all. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has been one of the most vocal lawmakers proposing the healthcare policy, though many others have since supported a Medicare for all plan.

Other surveys have found high support for Medicare for all across the American population.

However, the term itself could have several different policy implications. The proposals range from extending mandatory Medicare coverage to all Americans without cost sharing to introducing a Medicare buy-in for adults 55 and older.

“'Medicare-for-All’ is a term that means something different to everyone, which makes it hard for the public to understand how such a program would work,” Caroline Pearson, senior fellow at NORC, said in a statement. “As the policy debate unfolds, politicians will need to coalesce around some key parameters of a Medicare-for-All proposal to help voters understand the impact.”

Specifically, Medicare for all proposals still have some unanswered questions, including who will be eligible for the plan and if it will be mandatory or optional for people to enroll.

Among adults who participated in the survey, 51 percent said they thought Medicare for all would include all Americans, while 23 percent believed the plan would include only those 50 years old and older. Another 23 percent said the plan would only be available to people without other sources of insurance.

More than half of respondents––55 percent––believed enrollment would be optional, whereas 41 percent believed it would be a mandatory program.

More Americans also believed the policy would expand coverage and lower patient costs, but agreed such a plan could increase healthcare spending in the U.S. overall. A 2018 analysis found Medicare for all could cost $32.6 trillion over 10 years.

“People expect that Medicare-for-All will address the issues that matter most to them, namely reducing out-of-pocket costs and increasing breadth of coverage,” Michelle Strollo, vice president at NORC, said in a statement. “At the same time, they seem to recognize that such benefits would come at a cost with a Medicare-for-All plan likely to drive up total U.S. health care spending.”

The survey included 1,021 interviews from December 2018 with Americans aged 18 and older.