The millions of dollars spent on negative advertisements on the Affordable Care Act may have actually led to increased overall enrollment, according to a new study from the Brookings Institute.
According to May research from Kantar Media, anti-Obamacare groups have outspent their opponents by a 15-to-1 margin on the airwaves since the law was passed four years ago — out of almost $US450 million in total spent on ads.
But Brookings fellow Niam Yaraghi looked at the trend and found “positive association between the anti-ACA spending and ACA enrollment.” This was especially true in blue states, some of which feature the most competitive Senate races in the midterm elections. Yaraghi found that in states where Democrats are running for re-election, ad spending against the law correlated with higher enrollment.
“Although the volume of spending on anti-ACA ads is driven by the competitiveness of the Senate midterm elections and may be effective in reducing the votes for the targeted political figure, they may not necessarily reduce the popularity of the ACA,” Yaraghi wrote.
The study doesn’t take into account other potential factors for increased enrollment. In Kentucky, for example, the “Obamacare” exchange was marketed as “Kynect,” and the state has been praised for how it ran its state exchange.
Another potential factor Yaraghi observed: In states where more anti-Obamacare ads aired, more people believed Congress was likely to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the near future. This may have encouraged more people to take advantage of what they consider a limited-time opportunity.
“People who believe that subsidized health insurance may soon disappear could have a greater willingness to take advantage of this one time opportunity,” Yaraghi wrote.
Here’s a scatter plot of Yaraghi’s findings:
This post has been updated.
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