This year, in the midst of a global pandemic that is ravaging the country, access to health care has become an increasingly urgent conversation, especially as early statistics show that black Americans are dying and becoming infected with coronavirus at much higher rates than white Americans.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, when it comes to health care, black Americans are more likely than white Americans to be uninsured and are significantly more likely to fall into the coverage gap, where they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough for tax credits. Hispanic Americans are also significantly more likely than white Americans to face major barriers to health care access.
Recent PRRI data shows that black Americans and Hispanic Americans are the most likely racial groups to rate health care as a critical issue among 12 major political issues. More than seven in ten black Americans (78%) and Hispanic Americans (71%) say it is a critical issue, compared to about six in ten white Americans (61%).
Similarly, among religious groups, black and Hispanic denominations are the most likely to rate health care as critical, with 79% of black Protestants, 73% of Hispanic Catholics, and 68% of Hispanic Protestants saying this. White denominations are less likely to say it is a critical issue, including 60% of white mainline Protestants and 53% of white evangelical Protestants.
Along partisan lines, Democrats are the most likely to rate health care as a critical issue. Nearly eight in ten (77%) Democrats and more than six in ten independents (64%), compared to less than half (48%) of Republicans say it is critical.
As coronavirus continues to reveal disparities in health care, more Americans are advocating for a sweeping overhaul of the current health care system. One such solution, touted by prominent policymakers like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), is Medicare for All, which would replace private health insurance with government-backed health insurance.
PRRI’s 2019 American Values Survey demonstrates that a majority (63%) of Americans support a Medicare for All plan, but there is a significant partisan gap on this issue. More than eight in ten (87%) Democrats, and more than six in ten (63%) independents support Medicare for All, while only about three in ten (31%) Republicans support it.