Anti-reform ad fail: Negative campaigns increased ACA enrollment

Critics of the Affordable Care Act have spent about $450 million on negative ads. But those ad dollars may have backfired, given a recent analysis by the Brookings Institution shows a positive link between anti-ACA spending and ACA enrollment.

After determining ACA enrollment ratios and per capita spending on anti-reform ads, the Brookings Institution finds negative reform ads in states with senators running for re-election have influenced more people to sign up for insurance coverage under the law.

In states where Senate Democrats are up for re-election, anti-ACA ad dollars were associated with higher enrollment numbers, while the Brookings Institution found the opposite effect in states where Senate Republicans are defending seats.

The findings suggest negative reform ads may inadvertently make the public more aware of subsidized health insurance and reform benefits available to uninsured individuals. Moreover, residents exposed to more anti-ACA ads were more likely to believe Congress will soon repeal the ACA, which could make them more willing to take advantage of subsidized coverage while they still have the chance, the analysis noted.

The analysis follows a Commonwealth Fund survey that found the majority of new ACA enrollees were very or somewhat satisfied with their new coverage. In fact, 74 percent of newly insured Republicans liked their coverage, compared to 85 percent of Democrats.

Health insurers, which have plenty of skin in the ACA enrollment game, have launched ad campaigns aiming to steer the uninsured to their products. Cigna and Kaiser Permanente, for example, spent $40 million in ACA-related television ads between Dec. 1 and Feb. 8. Unlike anti-ACA advertising, insurers' ads describe reform in more neutral terms, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

For more:
- here's the Brookings analysis