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Key Findings from Recent Polls: Many Seniors Unaware of Biden’s Health Care Reforms

Credit: Axios

Despite President Joe Biden’s focused efforts on health care reforms, particularly aiming to lower drug prices for senior citizens, a significant portion of this crucial voting demographic remains uninformed about the changes. This lack of awareness exists even as Biden and his administration push these initiatives through new advertisements and public announcements.

Here are several key points that underline the current situation based on the latest KFF poll findings and the broader implications for upcoming elections:

  1. Low Awareness Among Seniors: The poll reveals that only 48% of voters aged 65 and older know that Medicare now has the authority to negotiate some drug prices—a critical change aimed at reducing costs. This awareness has increased from 36% last November, indicating some progress in outreach efforts, but nearly half of this demographic is still unaware.
  2. Rising Knowledge of Out-of-Pocket Caps: Awareness of the new federal law that sets an annual limit on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare enrollees has also seen a modest increase. Now, 40% of older voters are aware of this cap, up from 27% in November. Despite this improvement, the majority remain uninformed about a change that directly benefits them financially.
  3. Low Penetration of Specific Measures: Even less well-known is the legislation that penalizes drug companies for raising prices faster than inflation, with only 15% of older voters aware of this provision, up from 9%. The $35 monthly cap on insulin costs for Medicare enrollees, one of the more heavily promoted parts of Biden’s health care reform, is known to only 52% of the older voters surveyed.
  4. Upcoming Changes Still Unknown: Some elements of the Inflation Reduction Act are not yet in effect, which may contribute to the ongoing lack of awareness. For instance, the final negotiated drug prices by Medicare will be released by September but won’t take effect until January 2026. Similarly, the annual $2,000 cap on drug costs will only begin next year, with a more limited cap that started in January.
  5. Broad Support for Extending Benefits: There is considerable support among voters across all parties for extending several of the drug provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act to all adults with health insurance, as Biden has proposed. This suggests that while awareness among older voters is low, the general population favors broader health care reforms.
  6. Trust in Biden Over Trump on Health Care: When it comes to health care, Biden is more trusted than former President Donald Trump, especially among independent voters. This group trusts Biden more to handle the future of the Affordable Care Act, ensure access to affordable health insurance, and maintain protections for people with pre-existing conditions by a 2-to-1 margin. This trust also extends to managing the future of Medicare and Medicaid.
  7. Mixed Confidence in Drug Cost Reduction: Among all voters, fewer than half believe that Biden’s policies would effectively lower prescription drug costs if he were reelected, with about 40% saying the same about Trump. This indicates a level of skepticism about the impact of political promises on actual health care costs.
  8. Support for Biden’s Social Security and Medicare Policies Among Older Voters: Older voters tend to have more confidence in Biden than Trump in managing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, with about half favoring Biden over Trump, who garners about a third of their trust.
  9. Strong Support for Extending Premium Subsidies: Extending the enhanced federal premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act coverage enjoys widespread support, with high approval ratings across political lines. These subsidies are set to expire at the end of next year unless extended.
  10. Voter Attitudes Towards Abortion: About 62% of voters support guaranteeing a federal right to abortion, aligning with Biden’s stance, while 42% prefer to leave the decision to individual states, as Trump advocates. This split highlights a significant divergence in voter preferences on this contentious issue.

The findings suggest that while President Biden’s health care reforms have garnered some increase in awareness among older voters, a substantial portion remains uninformed. This gap presents a significant challenge for Biden’s administration as they seek to communicate the benefits of their health care policies effectively, particularly in the lead-up to the next presidential election.