Americans are still pretty happy with their private health insurance
Posted December 9, 2019 2:54 p.m. EST
CNN — Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren may not like private health insurance, but many Americans do.
Some 71% of Americans rate their private coverage as "excellent" or "good," according to the latest Gallup poll, released Monday.
The share has remained fairly constant in recent years, even though 2020 presidential candidates like Sanders and Warren have ramped up their attacks on the industry this year. Both are pushing "Medicare for All" proposals that would essentially eliminate private coverage and shift the country to a government-run health insurance system instead.
Gallup poll results released Friday showed that Americans continue to prefer a health care system based on private insurance over a government-run health care system by a 54% to 42% split.
The results, however, differ widely based on party. Some 65% of Democrats, on average, have favored a government-run system, according to Gallup polls from 2015 to present, but only 13% of Republicans do. Some 46% of independents, on average, prefer a government-run program.
At the same time, Republicans and Democrats are reporting widely divergent views of satisfaction with what they pay for health care. A record 73% of Republicans are satisfied with what they pay, while 52% of Democrats feel the same way, an all-time low in the 19-year survey. Before this year, there had been more modest differences, though Republicans were typically more satisfied with their costs.
There's also a wider split between the parties when it comes to rating the quality of health care respondents receive. While 79% of those with private insurance thought it was "excellent" or "good," Republicans' "excellent" rating rose 13 points this year, while Democrats' fell 12 points.
President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers have repeatedly attacked the Democratic candidates, saying that Medicare for All will take away people's choices.
To be sure, private insurance doesn't enjoy as much support as Medicare and Medicaid, which earned a rating of "excellent" or "good" from 82% of Gallup respondents. But it still receives high marks.
"People may complain that costs may be too high, but they may consider the alternative -- they are thankful that they have health insurance," said Jeffrey Jones, senior editor at Gallup, which conducted the poll in early November.
Other Democratic candidates, such as former Vice President Joe Biden, argue that many Americans like their current coverage and should be allowed to keep it. They support a more moderate proposal -- a government-backed public option that would be offered alongside private policies.
Sanders and Warren, however, contend that people actually like their doctors and not their insurance plans.
The Gallup poll does show that Americans with private insurance are more concerned about costs than those with government coverage.
Some 55% of those with private plans are "satisfied" with the total cost they pay for health care, compared to 78% of those with Medicare or Medicaid.
The high cost of medical care has been in the spotlight, with Trump and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle promising to address it.
And Americans are feeling the squeeze. The share of those who have put off treatment for a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" condition rose to a record high of 25%, according to Gallup.