News Release

New Analysis Finds the Affordable Care Act Mentioned in 14% of This Year’s Political Ads

Republican Ads Were Much More Likely to Mention ACA, Often in Spots that Also Hit Other Issues

About 14 percent of political ads in all races airing this year through October 15 mention the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare or any of the law’s specific provisions, mostly in a negative way, a new Kaiser Family Foundation study finds.

Overall, about a quarter (26%) of political spots airing so far this year mention health care issues, including Medicare, veterans’ health care and women’s health issues.  Nearly half of these political ad spots mentioning health do not mention the ACA or any of its provisions. Republicans include ACA messaging in 84 percent of their political ad spots that cover health issues, compared to 15 percent for Democrats.

Even when it is mentioned in political ads, the ACA is often not the sole focus.  About three quarters (74%) of political ads mention the ACA along with other issues, such as the economy or social issues.

Based on data from Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group capturing television advertising in 210 media markets and national advertising across 10 broadcast and more than 80 cable networks, the analysis examined both political ad spots mentioning health care issues as well as health insurance spots promoting specific insurance products or encouraging enrollment.

The study finds that, between Jan. 1 and Oct. 15, more than 1.3 million health insurance and political ad spots that reference health care issues have aired.  This includes 742,988 insurance ads (56% of the total), such as health insurers advertising products as well as government, marketplace and advocacy groups encouraging enrollment, and 592,092 political ads (44%).  During the time period, total spending for airing health insurance ads is estimated to be more than 50 percent higher than the total spent airing political ads ($482 million vs. $303 million).

ACA Advertising in 2014 – Insurance and Political Ads is available online.

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The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.