A poll released yesterday by the Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation found that a slim majority supports single payer health care. From the Hill:

The Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows 51 percent of Americans support single-payer, while 43 percent oppose it.

Single-payer is popular with Democrats, with 74 percent supporting it, according to the poll. Fifty-four percent of independents support single payer while 80 percent of Republicans oppose it.

Polling conducted last summer by the Kaiser Family Foundation found similar results: 53 percent supported single-payer.

Here’s the link to the results on the question about single payer. In addition to the divide along partisan lines, there is also a sizeable gap based on income. Sixty percent of those making under $50k support it while just 43% of those making between $50k and 99K support it.

One of the reasons support for this may be so high is that the question was posed as a yes/no. You either support single-payer or you don’t. When Pew asked about support for single payer last June, they allowed for a more nuanced response that ranged from single payer to a mixture of government and private options to, on the other end of the spectrum, elimination of Medicare and Medicaid. Here were the results:

As you can see in that top bar, given these options only about 33% preferred single payer. Another 25% said the government was responsible for ensuring healthcare but wanted a mix of options.

Single payer is really the holy grail for a lot of socialists/progressives like Bernie Sanders. It’s the moment when government completely takes over a large portion of the economy and eliminates the free market from that sector.

A couple months ago, President Trump criticized the British single payer system as “broke and not working” and received a lot of pushback from UK politicians. But as I noted at the time, the BBC has recently reported that the UK system is in crisis, with people who spent time in over-crowded British hospitals describing it as a 3rd world experience.

The real obstacle to single payer is cost. California looked at implementing such a system and found the cost would be about $400 billion per year. Add a multi-trillion dollar price tag to the question raised in this poll and you’ll see a very different result.