Providence St. Joseph Health Study Shows Americans Value Medicaid, Hailing it as a Lifeline Upon Learning the Facts

June 11, 2018 Michael Connors
June 11, 2018

Top-line survey findings call on policymakers to consider public opinion before making major medicaid changes that affect coverage:

  • 77% say that it is very important that everyone has access to the health care they need.
  • More than half report they currently have Medicaid or have a connection to Medicaid.
  • 87% of respondents are aware of Medicaid, and positive public opinion increases when people learn more about its scope.

Medicaid provides health coverage for one in five Americans, and, while most of the population (63 percent) say 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 which was released today. With more than three-quarters of the country believing that it is very important that every person has access to the care they need, 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, four 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.

Five misperceptions about Medicaid

Having commissioned this latest study, Providence St. Joseph Health, the nation’s third-largest health system, is addressing the biggest knowledge gaps about Medicaid:

  • 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 heart-broken spouse in Texas relied on Medicaid to provide him the skilled nursing home 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.

Supporting quotes

Rod Hochman, M.D., President and CEO, Providence St. Joseph Health

“We know that there is plenty of room to improve Medicaid, and we are pursuing innovative ways to provide the best care in the best setting for this population. At the same time, we believe it’s critical to preserve coverage for the millions of Americans who rely on the program. Before lawmakers make changes to the program, it’s important to recognize how much Americans value it and to consider the repercussions of potential cuts. Medicaid matters to our patients, which is why the program matters so much to us.”

Rhonda Medows, M.D., Executive Vice President of Population Health, Providence St. Joseph Health

"Medicaid serves as the safety net for so many people in our communities. This vital lifeline to heath care, mental health, and community services that improves daily living and quality of life must be strengthened and supported. Medicaid programs enables Providence St. Joseph Health to honor our promise to our patients and carry out our promise: “Know me. Care for me. Ease my way.”

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 U.S. – West, Midwest, Northeast and South.

About Providence St. Joseph Health

Providence St. Joseph Health is committed to improving the health of the communities it serves, especially those who are poor and vulnerable. With 51 hospitals, 829 physician clinics, senior services, supportive housing and many other health and educational services, the health system and its partners employ 119,000 caregivers (employees) serving communities across seven states – Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington. With system offices based in Renton, Wash. and Irvine, Calif., the Providence St. Joseph Health family of organizations works together to meet the needs of its communities, both today and into the future.

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