Weak Support Among Older Americans For Medicare-For-All. More Support for a Medicare “Buy-In”

Weak Support Among Older Americans For Medicare-For-All. More Support for a Medicare “Buy-In”

As Congress and Democratic candidates debate Medicare-for-all, TSCL’s 2019 Senior Survey finds tepid support among older Americans for expanding Medicare to everyone.  On the other hand, our survey found some support for allowing the 55-64 group the opportunity to “buy-in” to Medicare.

Here’s how Senior Survey participants responded:

“In general, do you feel that the eligibility age for Medicare should be gradually lowered so that all Americans can get healthcare?”

Oppose                        49%

Support                       35%

Not sure                       16%

“In general, do you feel adults age 55 to 64 should have the option to ‘buy-in’ to Medicare?”

Support                       57%

Oppose                        25%

Not sure                       18%

While there are numerous proposals to reform our nation’s healthcare system under debate, a new poll by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that most Americans know little about the leading Medicare-for-all proposals and how those proposals would affect the way all Americans, including Medicare recipients, receive and pay for our healthcare.  Tricia Neuman, of the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation recently testified at a House hearing on Universal Health Coverage and in her comments about major proposals under discussion, explained a Medicare buy-in.  In her testimony, Neuman said the approach focuses on older adults 50 to 64 “because they face high premiums in the healthcare marketplace, particularly when their incomes are just above the limit for tax credits.”

A Medicare buy-in would cover Medicare benefits, Part A, B, and D, and would allow individuals to apply Affordable Care Act premium tax credits and subsidies toward their Medicare buy-in coverage.  A Medicare buy-in would use Medicare rates to pay hospitals and healthcare providers to reduce costs and premiums, rather than the higher rates typically paid by private insurers, and thus reduce premiums and spending.

Most importantly, the buy-in proposal would keep the financing of the new program separate from the current Medicare program, and explicitly prohibit the new program from having an impact on premiums and benefits in the current Medicare program.

Resource:  To view more public opinion poll findings on Medicare-for-all, the Kaiser Family Foundation has prepared a slideshow with charts illustrating support for various Medicare-for-all proposals.

Sources: “Strategies for Improving Health Coverage and Reducing Costs: Major Proposals and Key Considerations,” Tricia Neuman, Sc.D., Kaiser Family Foundation, prepared for the Committee on Ways and Means U.S. House of Representatives Hearing on Pathways to Universal Health Coverage, June 12, 2019.