Data Note: 5 Charts About Public Opinion on 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 polls.

#1 Public Holds Favorable Views Of Medicaid

A large majority of the public has a favorable view of the Medicaid program. Most recently, the July 2019 KFF Health Tracking Poll found three-fourths saying they have an either “very favorable” (39%) or “somewhat favorable” (36%) favorable view of the program, while just one-fifth say they have an unfavorable view. A majority of Democrats (85%), independents (76%), and Republicans (65%) view the program favorably.

Figure 1: Large Majority Of The Public Have A Favorable View Of Medicaid

#2 Most Think Medicaid Works Well For Low-Income People

In the February 2020 KFF Health Tracking Poll, majorities across partisans say the current Medicaid program is working well for most low-income people covered by the program. More than half of the public overall (56%) as well as Republicans (59%), Democrats (58%), and independents (55%) say the program is “working well.”

Figure 2: Majorities Say Current Medicaid Program Is Working Well

#3 More See Medicaid As Health Insurance Than As A Welfare Program

When asked whether Medicaid is primarily a health insurance program or a welfare program, a larger share of the public (67%) as well as more than two-thirds of independents (69%) and Democrats (78%) say Medicaid is primarily a health insurance program. A smaller majority of Republicans (53%) also say this, while four in ten (43%) say it is primarily a welfare program.

Figure 3: Majorities Across Partisans Say Medicaid Is Primarily A Health Insurance Program

#4 Medicaid Expansion Is Popular In Non-Expansion States

There are currently fourteen states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act to cover more low-income adults. Among those living in those states, twice as many want to see their Medicaid programs expand (61%) than say they want the program to stay as it is today (29%).

Figure 4: Majority Of Those Living In Non-Expansion States Want To See Their State Expand Medicaid

#5 Most Americans Have Some Connection To Medicaid

Two-thirds of Americans say they have had some connection to the Medicaid program, either having received health insurance through the program themselves (31%), or having their child (9%) or other friends or family members (26%) covered.

Figure 5: Two-Thirds Report Some Connection To Medicaid

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