Poll: Most Americans Say That Medicare Should Continue As It Is Today

From the Kaiser Family Foundation

Proposals to keep Medicare financially sustainable have taken a variety of forms in recent years. When asked about several specific proposals, this survey finds strong public support across age groups and party lines for allowing the federal government to negotiate lower prices with drug companies. About six in ten (58 percent) favor increasing Medicare premiums for wealthier seniors, but much fewer (31 percent) support increasing Medicare premiums for all seniors. While about half of the public overall (51 percent) support reducing Medicare payments to private insurance companies that provide Medicare benefits, this garners less support from older adults (39 percent). Compared to other, more popular proposals, fewer people support gradually raising the age of eligibility from 65 to 67 (39 percent overall), or increasing cost-sharing for future Medicare beneficiaries (24 percent overall). Raising the age of Medicare eligibility is supported by a smaller share of younger adults than adults ages 65 and older, who are already covered by Medicare and would not be affected by this change.

One proposal discussed in Congress would change the structure of Medicare so that the government would guarantee each senior a fixed contribution toward the cost of their insurance, rather than a defined set of benefits. Under this proposal, which is often called premium support, seniors would apply a certain amount toward the purchase of coverage from either traditional Medicare or from a list of private health plans. Most Americans, however, say they prefer the current system, with seven in ten (70 percent) saying Medicare should continue as it is today, with the government guaranteeing seniors’ health insurance and making sure that everyone can get the same defined set of benefits. A quarter (26 percent) say they prefer to see Medicare changed to a premium support system. Those under age 65 are somewhat more likely than seniors to support changing to such a structure (28 percent versus 18 percent). A majority of seniors, regardless of political party identification, prefer to see Medicare stay as is, seniors who identify as Democrats are somewhat less supportive of this change to Medicare (11 percent) than seniors who are independents (22 percent) or Republicans (27 percent).

Sacha Evans