The Affordable Care Act (ACA), the sweeping health reform sometimes referred to as “Obamacare,” will vastly change the landscape of health care in America.
Public opinion about the ACA has been split. As governments and other stakeholders continue rolling out the ACA, individuals' opinions are likely to change based on what they learn about the new law—and what they experience firsthand.
The RAND Health Reform Opinion Study tracks public opinion of the ACA by surveying the same people over time. This allows us to observe true changes in public opinion, rather than changes based on who was surveyed randomly. This approach was extremely effective in forecasting the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
Use the graphs below to explore our latest data. Hovering over a data point will display the exact numbers, as well as the week the data was received. Clicking a response in the legend to the right of the graph will toggle the corresponding line on and off. Click, drag to create a box around an area of the graph, then release to zoom in.
Do survey respondents have a generally favorable or unfavorable opinion of the ACA?
Have respondents changed their opinion of the ACA from positive to negative since the last time they were surveyed?
What effect do respondents think the ACA will have on themselves and their families?
What effect do respondents think the ACA will have on the country as a whole?
In addition to tracking overall opinion of the ACA and how it changes over time, we also track how opinion breaks down by individuals' characteristics.
Traditional polling methods are designed to provide a snapshot of public opinion at a particular moment in time. Our study is designed to shed light not just on what public opinion of the health reform is at a given time, but also how opinions change on an ongoing basis.
Most other polls contact a different group of randomly selected respondents each time they collect data. By contrast, following the same group of respondents for the duration of a study, as our method does, helps avoid random fluctuations in survey results that can be caused by a changing group of respondents. Moreover, our method allows us to observe the evolution of opinion over time.
Our survey covers more than 5,500 individuals, many more than the typical opinion poll that reaches 1,000 to 2,000 individuals. Because more people participate in our survey, we can more accurately measure opinion as it relates to individual characteristics or characteristics of the state where they live.
Starting in November 2013, we invited all 5,500+ members of the American Life Panel to participate in our survey each month. One fourth of the participants are surveyed each week of the month, and each respondent is contacted once per month. We update our results each week.
Respondents were also invited to participate in a survey during the last week of September 2013. This provides a baseline measurement of their opinions prior to rollout of the ACA marketplace websites.
As with nearly all survey data, we weight our sample to match the national population. This ensures that the data we collect is representative of the country as a whole. For example, if more women than men respond to a survey, weights can be used to compensate for this. Our weights are based on factors such as sex, age category, race-ethnicity, education, household size, and family income.
The RHROS includes three main questions to assess individuals' opinions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA):
It also asks about health insurance coverage for 2014:
Finally, the RHROS includes one question that changes over time to respond to current events: