5 Charts About Public Opinion on Medicaid

Note: This resource was updated May 23, 2024, to include newer polling data on the public’s views of Medicaid.

A quick look at the public’s view of Medicaid, the government health insurance and long-term care program for low-income adults and children, from recent KFF polling.

#1: Most Americans Have Some Connection To Medicaid

Two-thirds of adults in the U.S. say they have had some connection to the Medicaid program, including health insurance (59%), pregnancy-related care, home health care, or nursing home care (31%), coverage for a child (31%), or to help pay for Medicare premiums (23%).

#2: Public Holds Favorable Views Of Medicaid

Large majorities of the public hold favorable views of the Medicaid program. The March 2023 KFF Health Tracking Poll found three-fourths of the public say they have an either “very favorable” (29%) or “somewhat favorable” (47%) view of the program, while one-fifth say they have an unfavorable view. A majority of Democrats (89%), independents (75%), and Republicans (65%) view the program favorably. The share across parties who view the law favorably has remained stable since the last time it was asked in 2019.

#3: Most Think Medicaid Works Well For Lower-Income People

Most Americans say the current Medicaid program is working well for most low-income people covered by the program. More than two-thirds of the public overall (69%) say the program is working well, as do large majorities of independents (63%), Republicans (69%), and Democrats (76%). Three-fourths of people who have a connection to Medicaid, either through themselves, a family member, or a close friend receiving benefits (two-thirds of all adults), say the program is working well.

#4: Views Of Whether Medicaid Is Health Insurance Or Welfare Vary By Partisanship

When asked whether Medicaid is primarily a government health insurance program or a government welfare program, a larger share of the public (61%) as well as six in ten independents and eight in ten Democrats (79%) say Medicaid is primarily a health insurance program. A small majority of Republicans (54%) say Medicaid is primarily a welfare program.

#5: Medicaid Expansion Is Popular In Non-Expansion States

Two-thirds of the people living in states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act to cover more low-income adults say they want to see their Medicaid programs expand. This is nearly twice the share who say they want the program to stay as it is today (34%).

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