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Most in SC favor a government-run alternative to health insurance, Winthrop poll finds

10 quick tips to help you navigate SC’s health care system — and save money

Navigating the health care system can be tough — and the costs can pile up. Here are 10 quick tips to help you make the most of South Carolina's health care system and save money along the way.
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Navigating the health care system can be tough — and the costs can pile up. Here are 10 quick tips to help you make the most of South Carolina's health care system and save money along the way.

Many in South Carolina say they would support a government-administered alternative to private health insurance, as long as they also have the option to keep the insurance plan they have now, a new poll has found.

A poll conducted by Winthrop University found that a majority of South Carolinians support a national health plan “similar to Medicare” that would be “open to anyone” and would operate alongside private insurance.

Forty-eight percent of respondents said they would strongly favor creating such a plan, while another 23 percent say they somewhat favor the plan. Twenty-three percent of respondents oppose creating a government-run health care plan.

South Carolinians are more split on creating a single “Medicare-for-All” program that would eliminate private insurance. Forty-seven percent oppose such a plan, while 46 percent would support it.

The poll results come as health care has taken center stage in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. A number of Democratic candidates are running on plans to create some kind of federally-funded health care plan that would cover large swaths of Americans.

Most South Carolinians also said they would support an expansion of existing federal health programs. Seventy-three percent said they would support allowing people to buy into the state Medicaid program for low-income residents instead of private insurance, while 16 percent oppose that idea.

In all, 77 percent said they would support expanding Medicare to allow people over the age of 50 to buy into the program, which currently only covers Americans 65 and over and some with serious disabilities. Fifteen percent opposed the idea.

Winthrop poll director Scott Huffmon notes the poll results broadly line up with national figures found by a Kaiser Family Foundation poll from January.

“When plans aren’t branded with an obviously identifiable partisan or ideological label, South Carolinians’ preferences line up fairly closely to those of the national population,” Huffmon said.

Winthrop polled 942 S.C. residents between March 30 and April 13. The poll has a margin of error of 3.2 percent.

Reparations for slavery?

The latest poll also found South Carolinians divided on racial and partisan lines on whether reparations should be made to the descendents of slaves.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents were against paying reparations, while just 31 percent supported the idea.

The results split along racial lines. While 75 percent of whites oppose the idea, 72 percent of African American respondents were in favor of reparations.

Huffmon said the result among African Americans in South Carolina is significantly higher than in a national poll on the question two years earlier.

“This may be because overall attitudes in the black community have evolved, or because African Americans in a Deep South state may be more likely to face frequent prejudice than African Americans in other parts of the country,” Huffmon said.

“It could also be because African Americans in the South frequently see monuments, flags, and statues that glorify the Confederacy and frequently bring to mind the period of chattel slavery.”

Opinion also split along party lines. Among Democrats, 63 percent favor reparations, with 29 percent oppose them. Eighty-four percent of Republicans are against reparations, with only 9 percent in favor.

Other findings

President Donald Trump’s approval rating in South Carolina is 43 percent, while 46 percent percent of respondents disapprove of him. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans approve of the job Trump is doing, while 86 percent of Democrats disapprove.

Congress’ approval rating is 17 percent, but 69 percent disapprove.

Gov. Henry McMaster’s approval rating is 52 percent, with 25 percent disapproval. Seventy percent of Republicans approve of the job McMaster is doing. Thirty-three percent of Democrats approve of the governor’s performance, while 43 percent disapprove.

The S.C. Legislature’s approval rating is 45 percent, with 31 percent disapproval.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s approval rating is 51 percent, with 36 percent disapproval. Seventy-four percent of Republicans approve of the job Graham is doing in the U.S. Senate, while 58 percent of Democrats disapprove.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott’s approval rating is 56 percent, with 22 percent disapproval. Seventy-five percent of Republicans approve of the job Scott is doing. Thirty-six percent of Democrats approve of Scott’s performance in the Senate, while 38 percent disapprove.

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Bristow Marchant is currently split between covering Richland County and the 2020 presidential race. He has more than 10 years’ experience covering South Carolina. He won the S.C. Press Association’s 2015 award for Best Series on a toxic Chester County landfill fire, and was part of The State’s award-winning 2016 election coverage.