Despite Opposition to Student Loan Forgiveness, 84% of Republicans Support Forgiving Medical Debt

With the materialization of student loan forgiveness, some are predicting that medical debt may be next, as this is an issue that affects an estimated 23 million Americans. Though student loan forgiveness proved a politically divisive issue, we wanted to find out if Americans are more aligned on an arguably more pressing problem.

MedicarePlans surveyed 1,500 Americans to find out their opinions on medical debt forgiveness and found that:

  • 92% of Americans ‘somewhat’ or ‘strongly support’ medical debt forgiveness, including 84% of Republican respondents
  • 55% of Americans in favor say ALL medical debt should be forgiven regardless of cost, while 45% say it should come with a cost limit
  • 1 in 5 Republicans say Biden’s support of medical debt forgiveness would make them less inclined to support the proposal

92% of Americans Support Medical Debt Forgiveness

When respondents were asked whether they, in general, are in favor of forgiving medical debt, an overwhelming 92% reported that they somewhat (31%) or strongly (62%) support medical debt forgiveness, with only 8% saying they are not in support.

However, older Americans were noticeably less in favor of medical debt forgiveness, with only 81% of respondents aged 54 and up saying they are somewhat (44%) or strongly (37%) supportive. This coincides with other findings from the data, as older Americans also report having less medical debt themselves. Only 21% of respondents in this age group say they currently have medical debt.

Of the total sample, 31% of respondents say they currently have medical debt, 30% have had medical debt in the past, and 30% also have a close friend or family member who has been affected by medical debt. As expected, support for medical debt forgiveness is even higher with this group than with the total sample, with only 5% saying they do not support forgiving medical debt.

84% of Republicans Support Medical Debt Forgiveness, While Only 64% Support Student Loan Forgiveness

Survey results showed a 20-point difference between Republicans who support medical debt forgiveness and those who support student loan forgiveness. Sixty-four percent of Republicans somewhat (27%) or strongly (37%) support student debt forgiveness, while 84% of Republicans somewhat (40%) or strongly (44%) support forgiving medical debt.

Additionally, nearly one in five Republican respondents (19%) say that if President Biden chooses to support medical debt forgiveness, it will make them less in favor of the issue.

Many Would Prefer Medical Debt Forgiveness Go to Older Americans and Be Limited to a Certain Amount

Respondents did outline a few stipulations they would prefer to see with medical debt forgiveness. Support for forgiveness specifically for COVID-related costs (65% strongly supporting) was slightly more popular than forgiveness in general (62% strongly supporting).

Additionally, the largest group, at 56%, said they would support medical debt forgiveness for borrowers aged 65 and up, versus just 43% who would support forgiveness for borrowers under 25 years of age. This is a notable finding given that older Americans were less likely to support medical debt forgiveness in general.

55% of Americans Are Supportive of Forgiving Medical Debt Regardless of Cost

Fifty-five percent of Americans say they would support medical debt forgiveness regardless of the cost, while 45% say debt should be forgiven only up to a certain amount. Of this group, the largest percentage (27%) believe that up to $25,000 of medical debt should be forgiven per person.


This survey was commissioned by and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish on September 28, 2022. In total, 1,500 participants in the U.S. were surveyed. All participants had to pass through quality filters and be 18 years of age or older. For full survey results, please contact [email protected].