Support to expand Medicare coverage to all Americans has fallen among current beneficiaries of the federal health insurance program, eHealth CEO Scott Flanders told CNBC on Monday.
About 37% of the Medicare recipients surveyed support the idea that Medicare or Medicare-like coverage should be extended to all Americans, according to an eHealth survey set to be released Tuesday. That number is down from 41% a year ago, according to eHealth, a digital health insurance marketplace company. EHealth surveyed 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries.
"They just don't think that those under 65 should be able to participate, and you can't really blame them," Flanders said in an exclusive interview with "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer. "They've been paying into Medicare all their lives and it's like: 'Wait a minute, we don't want [to be] flooded by people who haven't paid into it.' And so that number is up to 58% of Medicare beneficiaries who say we should not have Medicare for All."
The U.S. government launched Medicare more than five decades ago to insure people 65 and older. The program also supports some people with disabilities who do not meet the age threshold, along with those with permanent kidney failure, according to its website.
The report will come out in the thick of the Democratic Party's presidential primary race as voters in six states, including Michigan, get to cast their ballots in the contest Tuesday. The tight race pits former Vice President Joe Biden, who says he wants to expand on the current American health-care system known as Obamacare, against Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., whose signature campaign policy "Medicare For All" would replace Obamacare with a system fully funded by the public.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, remains a distant contestant in the primary race.
Sanders' plan is to transform the country's private health-care industry, replacing it with a single-payer program. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who dropped out of the nominating contest last week, had a similar plan to transition to Medicare for All, which would have cost $20.5 trillion in new federal spending.
"What's going on, really, when Elizabeth Warren published her plan, it became common knowledge that it's not an affordable solution," Flanders said.
Warren had surged to front-runner status late last year, but she faced criticism for the price tag, and her position in the polls began to dwindle until she ended her campaign after Super Tuesday. Sanders has refused to outline how he would pay for his version of a universal health-care system, though he argues that existing federal taxes already cover a large part of what his plan would include.
Analysts project that Sanders' Medicare for All proposal would cost $32 trillion over 10 years.
"I like her," Flanders said of Warren. "She's smart and, you know, she works to actually be able to explain what she offers. But when it was explained it was rejected, and it's because it truly — at this stage of our GDP — it's not affordable."
EHealth shares fell almost 3% during Monday's marketwide sell-off. The stock is up 36% to $130.70 per share since the beginning of 2020.