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New Poll Finds Majority of Ohioans Have Favorable Opinion of Medicaid

Oct 9, 2018

As policymakers in Ohio consider health care policy and its related costs, it can be helpful to understand attitudes about health-related programs, specifically Medicaid. For the first time, the 2018 Ohio Health Issues Poll asked respondents if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the state’s Medicaid program. Seven in 10 Ohio adults (68%) had a favorable opinion of Medicaid.

When the data were analyzed by political party affiliation, majorities of Ohio adults in all political parties held a favorable opinion of Medicaid. Six in 10 Republicans (57%) and Independents (62%) held a somewhat or very favorable view, compared with 8 in 10 Democrats (84%).

Data from OHIP are consistent with nationwide surveys. The Kaiser Family Foundation’s Health Tracking Poll from February 2018 found that 74% of Americans had a favorable opinion of Medicaid.

“Data from the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the Ohio Legislative Services Commission show that in 2017, more than 3 million residents of the state were enrolled in Medicaid and overall Medicaid costs for Ohioans were more than $25 million,” said O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO of Interact for Health. “Given the number of Ohioans impacted, either directly by receiving coverage, or indirectly as taxpayers who help fund Medicaid, it’s important for us to understand public opinion about this public health insurance program.”

Additional data from OHIP will be released in the coming weeks, with analysis provided on topics ranging from tobacco and e-cigarettes to use of retail health clinics to attitudes about addiction. OHIP is a telephone survey to measure Ohioans’ opinions on health-related issues, and has been fielded annually since 2005. The survey is conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati on behalf of Interact for Health. 

Most Ohio adults have health coverage

OHIP also asked adults whether they had health insurance coverage. The vast majority of Ohio adults have coverage, either from a public or private source. The survey found that in 2018, just 1 in 10 Ohio adults ages 18 to 64 (9%) reported that they did not currently have health coverage. Because nearly all adults older than age 65 have health coverage through Medicare, this report is focused on adults age 18 to 64.

Ohio results are similar to the nation: The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 13% of American adults ages 18 to 64 were uninsured between January and March 2018.

“A lack of adequate coverage makes it difficult for people to get the health care they need and, when they do get care, burdens them with large medical bills,” said Owens. “With health insurance, individuals gain entry to our health care system, which in turn allows them to promote and maintain health, prevent and manage disease, and reduce unnecessary disability and premature death.”

Findings on source of coverage, gaps in coverage

Other notable data from OHIP related to health coverage:

  • Source of insurance
    • Half of all Ohio adults ages 18 to 64 receive health insurance through their own employer or a spouse’s employer. While this is similar to 2017 OHIP results, the percentage has decreased since 2015.
    • 24% of Ohio adults ages 18 to 64 receive public health insurance via Medicaid, Medicare, veterans’ benefits or a combination.
    • 17% of Ohio adults had insurance from another source, including people who bought their own plan and those who responded “other” or “don’t know”
  • Only 7% of insured Ohio adults had been without insurance at some point in the past year, the same as 2017.

About the Ohio Health Issues Poll

The 2018 Ohio Health Issues Poll (OHIP) is funded by Interact for Health. OHIP was conducted May 22-June 19, 2018, by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. A random sample of 816 adults from throughout Ohio was interviewed by telephone. This included 363 landline telephone interviews and 452 cell phone interviews. In 95 of 100 cases, statewide estimates will be accurate to ± 3.4%. There are other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question wording, or context effects that can introduce error or bias. For more information about the Ohio Health Issues Poll, please visit https://www.interactforhealth.org/about-ohip/.

About Interact for Health

Interact for Health is improving the health of all people in our region. We serve as a catalyst by promoting health equity through grants, education, research, policy and engagement. To amplify the impact of our work, Interact for Health focuses on three strategic priorities: reducing tobacco use, addressing the opioid epidemic and ensuring that children have access to health care through school-based health centers. We are an independent foundation that serves 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

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