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As Presidential Campaign Continues, Awareness of Medicare-for-All Has Increased

Press Release

People are divided about what the policy would do and how it would impact their current insurance coverage.

CHICAGO, Jan. 31, 2020 — After a year of presidential frontrunners debating the policy, 78 percent of adults report that they had heard about “Medicare-for-All” as of December 2019. This was an increase from only 53 percent who had heard about such a proposal at the end of 2018. The findings come from a new AmeriSpeak® Spotlight on Health survey from NORC at the University of Chicago.

Twenty-six percent of people said they had heard a lot about Medicare-for-All in December 2019, double the number who had heard a lot about it one year prior.


As debate and campaigning for the 2020 presidential election progress, the candidates’ focus on a Medicare-for-All proposal has contributed to greater awareness of the policy. However, the public continues to be uncertain about the specifics of who would be eligible for such a plan and whether enrollment would be mandatory or optional, reflecting a lack of details provided by many of the Democratic candidates in support of the policy.


When asked who would be eligible to enroll in a Medicare-for-All plan, survey respondents were divided. Among all adults who answered the survey, two-thirds (66 percent) thought Medicare-for-All would include all Americans—up from last year when only 51 percent thought this. Only 13 percent believed the plan would include only those 50 years and older, and another 20 percent thought the plan would only be available to people without other sources of insurance. Compared with a year ago, more people now think that everyone would be eligible to enroll in a Medicare-for-All plan. Conversely, people’s views on participation requirements have stayed relatively stable, with 40 percent believing enrollment would be mandatory and 60 percent thinking it would be optional.


“As more people hear about Medicare-for-All, they assume that all Americans would be eligible to enroll,” said Caroline Pearson, senior vice president at NORC. “However, as the Democratic primary continues, candidates seem to be shifting away from a comprehensive Medicare-for-All plan that would enroll everyone and toward more incremental approaches.


People are unsure if they would be able to keep their current insurance.


When asked if they would be able to keep their current insurance under a “Medicare-for-All” plan, 52 percent of people said yes, while 46 percent thought they would have to give up their current coverage.


“We know that employer coverage is the most common source of insurance in this country and remains popular among most Americans,” said Michelle Strollo, senior vice president at NORC. “Any plan that eliminated employer coverage could face increased public opposition as people learn more about the details of the policy.”


“As more people hear about Medicare-for-All, they assume that all Americans would be eligible to enroll.”

Caroline Pearson

Senior Vice President

“As more people hear about Medicare-for-All, they assume that all Americans would be eligible to enroll.”

1,002 interviews for this AmeriSpeak Spotlight on Heath poll were completed December 19-23, 2019 with adults age 18 and over representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The overall margin of sampling error is +/- 4.13 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, including the design effect. The margin of sampling error may be higher for subgroups.

Data were collected using AmeriSpeak® Omnibus, a monthly multi-client survey using NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population. The survey was part of a larger study that included questions about other topics not included in this report. Methodological information about the AmeriSpeak Panel is available here. This AmeriSpeak Spotlight on Health poll was self-funded by NORC. A comprehensive listing of all study questions, tabulations of top-level results for each question, and detailed methodology is available below.

About the AmeriSpeak Spotlight on Health
NORC at the University of Chicago’s AmeriSpeak® Spotlight on Health is a series of quick-hitting national surveys on issues vital to health and well-being, conducted using AmeriSpeak’s probability-based panel.

About NORC at the University of Chicago

NORC at the University of Chicago conducts research and analysis that decision-makers trust. As a nonpartisan research organization and a pioneer in measuring and understanding the world, we have studied almost every aspect of the human experience and every major news event for more than eight decades. Today, we partner with government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world to provide the objectivity and expertise necessary to inform the critical decisions facing society.

Contact: For more information, please contact Eric Young at NORC at or (703) 217-6814 (cell).

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