Academic Minute Podcast

Ashley Fox, University at Albany – Pandemic Job Increases Support for Medicare-For-All

On Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy Week: The COVID-19 pandemic could be changing attitudes on certain social safety nets.

Ashley Fox, associate professor in the department of public administration and policy, explores one such instance in the health sector.

Ashley Fox, PhD, MA is an interdisciplinary health policy researcher. Bridging policy studies, political science and demography, her research examines the politics and policy of public health and the effects of social policies on health outcomes. She is presently an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at University at Albany, SUNY. She earned a BA and MA in Political Science from the University of Connecticut and a PhD in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard between 2009-2010 and at Yale University in the Division of Health Policy and Administration between 2010-2011.

Pandemic Job Loss Increases Support for Medicare-For-All


The United States is the only high-income country that relies on employer-sponsored health coverage to insure a majority of its population: Sixty percent of working-age Americans received health insurance through their employer in 2019.

Advocates for Medicare-for-All have long pointed to the disadvantages of tying insurance to employment, such as the creation of “job lock”. Tying insurance to employment posed a significant challenge at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic as millions of Americans who lost their jobs early in the pandemic also lost their health insurance coverage. Polling studies have shown Medicare-for-All to be highly popular, but support usually declines when more details emerge. However, research also shows that direct experiences with economic insecurity can change people’s perspectives on the need for safety-nets.

My team and I set out to examine whether the massive job losses during the pandemic could change people’s attitudes towards Medicare-for-All or related health safety-nets like expanding the Affordable Care Act.

We looked at this in two ways- first showing a vignette about a person who lost his job and health insurance due to the economic downturn and second asking people directly whether they had lost their health insurance during the pandemic. We found that both simulated and real-life job loss affected people’s attitudes towards Medicare-for-All. People who were experimentally assigned the vignette were 6 percentage points more likely to say they support Medicare-for-All than those in the control group. But we found more substantial effects for real-life job loss. People who experienced health insurance loss during the pandemic were 10 percentage points more likely to support Medicare-for-All and also had higher support for expanding the Affordable Care Act.

If this is the moment to consider universal health coverage, drawing on people’s lived experiences during the pandemic could be an effective way to raise favorability.

Read More:
[Duke University Press] – Health Insurance Loss during COVID-19 May Increase Support for Universal Health Coverage
[University at Albany] – UAlbany Study Explores Impact of Health Insurance Loss During COVID-19


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