Attitudes Towards the Affordable Care Act

Awarded Scholars:
Daniel J. Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania
William R. Hobbs, Northeastern University
Project Date:
Nov 2016
Award Amount:

Findings: Explaining Stability and Change in Public Attitudes Toward the Affordable Care Act; Daniel J. Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania, and William R. Hobbs, Northeastern University

Co-funded with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is one of the most significant social policy reforms in decades. By 2015, the number of uninsured Americans had fallen by more than 16 million. However, there is a disconnect between the ACA’s accomplishments and the ongoing political controversy surrounding it. In the aggregate, public opinion remains mixed: 2016 polls show that 44% of respondents held an unfavorable view and that 42% had a favorable view. With minor fluctuations, the splits have generally been similar since the law’s passage in 2010.

Rising enrollment without increased favorability presents a puzzle. In other policy arenas, citizens’ experiences with new policies tend to shape their views. Why have overall attitudes toward the ACA remained stable over a period when the law’s meaning and reach have changed dramatically? Political scientists Daniel Hopkins and William Hobbs will study the effects of policy changes, political events, and political rhetoric on 1) the accessibility and evaluation of ACA-relevant information; 2) the evaluation of personal and impersonal experiences and their connection to attitudes on the health care law; and 3) overall evaluations of and behaviors related to the ACA.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


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