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Medicare For All Remains Far From Reality For Major U.S. Metros

THURSDAY, AUG 22, 2019

The popular Democratic program known as “Medicare for All” isn’t yet a reality anywhere in the United States. But it’s coming close in The Villages, a Florida metro that includes the nation’s largest age-restricted community and that’s been one of the fastest-growing places in the country during the last decade.

A Social Explorer analysis of 2013-17 American Community Survey data found more than two-thirds of the 108,000 residents in The Villages are enrolled in government-sponsored health-care plans such as Medicare for the elderly and disabled; Medicaid, for the poor and disabled; or the Veterans Administration. The three metros with the highest percentages of enrollees in government health-care plans are in Florida; the other two are in Arizona, another attractive destination for retired Americans.

The discussion of expanding the government’s role in health care has grown significantly as costs have risen. Health-care costs have more than tripled over the last two decades; it now accounts for almost $1 of every $5 spent in the United States. Slightly more than one-third of all Americans rely upon some type of public insurance program to pay for health care; you can use Social Explorer to examine the concentration of publicly insured Americans by different geographies.


Visualize and analyze public health coverage on the MSA level. Visit to explore further.

While polls show a majority of Americans tend to support a government-run health-care system, support for programs like “Medicare for All” soften if the availability of private or supplemental health insurance plans is reduced. Candidates running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination have mostly agreed that the nation’s health-care system needs massive reform; Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have disagreed.

Ironically, The Villages is one of the more conservative metros in the nation, casting roughly 70 percent of its 2016 presidential votes for Trump. The 67 percent of residents in government-run health-care plans is far and away the highest percentage in the nation; Sebring, Fla., which ranked second, only has 57 percent of its residents receiving health care via Medicare, Medicaid, or the Veterans Administration. Homosassa Springs, Fla., ranked third, with 56 percent of people receiving health-care through a government program.

The Provo-Orem, Utah, metro area had the lowest percentage of residents receiving health care from a government-sponsored program. Only 16.9 percent of people in the conservative Utah enclave were enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA — less than half the national average of 37 percent.

Eight of the metro areas with the highest percentage of Medicare recipients were in Florida. More than 60 percent of people in The Villages received health care from Medicare, the federal program for roughly 44 million elderly and disabled Americans. Punta Gorda, Fla., trailed significantly for the No. 2 spot, with 41 percent of residents enrolled in Medicare. The two metro areas outside of Florida with high Medicare concentrations included Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and Prescott, Ariz.

If Florida was the poster child for Medicare enrollment, California metros were clearly the face of Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for more than 70 million poor, disabled, and young Americans. Eight of the 10 metros with the highest percentages of Medicaid enrollment were in California. El Centro, Calif., and Merced, Calif., topped the list with 41 percent of residents receiving care via the program. Almost 40 percent of Madera, Calif. residents were enrolled in Medicaid.

The Manhattan, Kansas, metro area had the lowest Medicaid participation rate in the country, according to the Census data. Barely 9 percent of residents in the northeastern Kansas metro received health care through the program.

Author: Frank Bass

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