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What Do Americans Want in Health Insurance?

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For that 34% of the U.S. population in the dark: Yes, Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, still exists. This lack of knowledge was one finding by, which surveyed Americans on what types of health care system they prefer, an especially pertinent topic as it has become a hot potato in the Democratic presidential primary debates.

The telephone survey of 1,009 people done in September found some other interesting points on where Americans stand on health care. One issue that has divided the Democratic contenders is the “Medicare for All” system, which would end private insurance. This idea had only 25% support of those surveyed. Instead, 62% “most strongly support” a U.S. health care system that includes both public and private insurance. Only 9% favored a system that includes only private insurance.

In its report, quoted Harvard health economist Eric Feigl-Ding, who said the survey pointed out two things about public sentiment: First, that people want incremental change. And second, that they don’t really trust the private health insurance sector. He also pointed out that Americans are generally uninformed about the nuances of Medicare, and “if you talk to someone under the age of 60, I guarantee you they know almost nothing about Medicare.”

(Related: 10 Worst States for Medicare Advantage Sticker Shock)

Also, when it comes to Medicare, 43% believe it is at risk of going bankrupt in the future, while the same amount said it would not. Feigl-Ding believes again this is due to being uninformed. “Health care costs are skyrocketing out of control, yes, but Medicare can’t go bankrupt,” he said. “Medicare is a non-discretionary budget item, which means the U.S. government has to fund it, and it can issue as much debt as it needs to.”

The survey also found that 58% believed undocumented migrants should have insurance access while 39% did not. This shows that Americans understand that a healthy immigrant population is going to be better for the country overall, Feigl-Ding said.

Finally, 50% of Americans surveyed believe the U.S. health care system hasn’t changed since President Donald Trump took office; although 28% said it’s gotten worse, 18% said it’s gotten better. As noted above, 34% of those surveyed didn’t realize the ACA was still in effect.

Feigl-Ding thinks these two factors are related. The Republican party’s efforts to cut out parts of the Act has hurt it overall, causing a rise in premiums. “This study reflects people’s frustration, but I’m not sure enough people know the source of why this is happening,” he said.

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