RENTON, Wash. (June 13, 2018)—Medicaid provides health coverage for 1 in 5 Americans, and, while 63 percent of the population says it is important, positive opinion of the program increases dramatically when people learn more, according to the latest national survey from Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH).

With more than three-quarters of the country believing that it is very important that every person has access to the care they need, the survey found that almost all people react favorably when familiarized with all the ways that Medicaid covers children, seniors in nursing homes, veterans and more groups of vulnerable people.

As policymakers consider significant reductions and changes to Medicaid, their constituents see the value of the program and become even stronger supporters once they recognize that Medicaid is often the only health care option for their friends, neighbors and loved ones. While Medicaid needs programmatic improvements, it is clear that most Americans value the coverage it provides for millions of people.

Although 61 percent find Medicaid confusing, 90 percent of those surveyed said Medicaid is important after reading a description of the program, including that it covers nearly half of all births, 4 out of 10 children, and 60 percent of all seniors in nursing homes, many veterans and those impacted by the country's growing opioid epidemic.

What the St. Joseph Study Revealed
Having commissioned this latest study, Providence St. Joseph Health, the nation's third-largest health system, learned:

  • Almost everyone knows Medicaid covers people with low-incomes and those who are disabled but few know that the program’s long list of insured are children, including those who have disabilities and are in foster care; pregnant women; seniors; veterans; and people seeking help for mental health care and opioid addictions.
  • Only 53 percent of respondents knew that the Affordable Care Act made Medicaid coverage accessible to millions more Americans.
  • Three in four consumers cannot name their state’s Medicaid program, again demonstrating a fundamental lack of knowledge of the programs by name, even though they value Medicaid’s services and overall role.
  • Most don’t know that people with Medicare coverage can also qualify for Medicaid.
  • Even fewer know that Medicaid supports the majority of seniors living in skilled nursing facilities.

Knowing the Facts and Faces of Medicaid
To help better inform more people about Medicaid and the people who depend on it, Providence St. Joseph Health has launched “The Many Faces of Medicaid.” Using the stories of real people’s lives, the program sheds light on the value of Medicaid not just to the people it covers but to communities as a whole. Among the powerful stories on the site:

  • Twenty-three years ago, a boy in Alaska was born 10 weeks early to parents who could not afford his care without Medicaid. Today, he's a bright young teacher ready to change the world.
  • In California, Medicaid helps sustain the daughter of a public relations executive. Born with a rare (1,000 in the world) condition, this bright young girl requires care at a cost that eclipses the means of her two professional parents.
  • A young man in New Mexico manages depression and addiction through the help of Medicaid and is now on the path to rebuilding his life.
  • A hard-working Montana couple found themselves both facing challenging times between jobs and relied on Medicaid to help get back on their feet.
  • As a social media expert in Oregon searched for a new job, she needed Medicaid to help her successfully manage her Type II diabetes.
  • After learning her husband had dementia, a heartbroken spouse in Texas relied on Medicaid to provide him the skilled nursing care he needed before he passed away.
  • An energetic 50-year-old woman in Washington experienced a catastrophic stroke, and, since her commercial insurance ran out, Medicaid has been a lifeline to help rebuild her life.

About the Survey
PSJH commissioned MarketVision Research to survey 607 respondents, ages 18 or older, had no conflicts of employment, were a health care decision maker or consumer in the past year, had at least heard of the Medicaid and Medicare programs, and were evenly divided across four census regions in the United States—West, Midwest, Northeast and South.

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