Call it Socialist Shock. Whaddaya mean, we gotta pay for our free medical coverage? A new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows strong support for Medicare for All, a proposal for single-payer health care which will be a core feature in Democrats’ 2020 presidential primary campaigns. Support goes up when pollsters mention its potential benefits, too.
It’s when the bills start coming due that M4A starts sounding like a nightmare — which might make it an electoral nightmare in the long run:
Medicare-for-all starts with net favorability rating of +14 percentage points (56% who favor it, minus 42% who oppose it). This jumps to +45 percentage points when people hear the argument that this type of plan would guarantee health insurance as a right for all Americans. However, views turn negative and net favorability falls to -44 percentage points when people hear the argument that it would lead to delays in some people getting medical tests and treatments.
Kaiser charted out the changes in net M4A favorability, which might be one of the more humorous health-care policy charts that we’ll see:
The Associated Press lays out more of the data, in which the final tally of support lands at 26%:
The poll found that Americans initially support “Medicare-for-all,” 56 percent to 42 percent.
However, those numbers shifted dramatically when people were asked about the potential impact, pro and con.
Support increased when people learned “Medicare-for-all” would guarantee health insurance as a right (71 percent) and eliminate premiums and reduce out-of-pocket costs (67 percent).
But if they were told that a government-run system could lead to delays in getting care or higher taxes, support plunged to 26 percent and 37 percent, respectively.
If we didn’t have to worry about bills, I could think of lots of stuff I’d like. I’d like to drive a Ferrari California and get hair implants, too. (Yes, the latter would take years to accomplish, I know, I know.) Unfortunately, someone has to pay for those things — otherwise, they don’t exist in the first place. Policies like this always sounds awesome until the bill comes, and then suddenly it looks a whole lot less attractive. As Robert Heinlein wrote, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.
For some reason, though, that dynamic tends to go askew in elections. Politicians win office by offering lots of “free” stuff, even when their opponents remind voters just how high the bill will get. We occasionally get pleasantly surprised, as happened in Colorado when voters overwhelmingly rejected a state-run single-payer system that threatened to spill red ink over both sides of the Rockies. For the most part, however, voters tend to think like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about big-spending policies and just assume the costs will be covered by Other People’s Money. And while we all know what the problems are with OPM and socialism, we as a people seem highly resistant to connecting those dots in election cycles.
In other words, don’t expect this to slow down Democrats’ ardor for M4A. Or to inform voters when it counts, either.