US Insights

Americans Lose Faith as Health Care Battle Heats Up

Ross Tucker

Executive Editor Kantar US Insights

Politics 03.23.2017 / 21:00


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Money is starting to pour into health care ads.

Americans consider health care to be one of the biggest issues facing the country, but have little faith that we’re on the path to seeing improvement.

The health care battle is heating up, with advertising dollars pouring in on both sides of the issue. The ramp up of rhetoric and marketing has had a clear impact on Americans’ view of the issue. A survey of 603 people conducted by Lightspeed in February found that Americans rank health care the second-biggest challenge we face, topped only by national security concerns.

Another 70% said the cost of health care was a concern for their family.

Despite the high level of concern, few expect changes for the better. More than 70% of respondents believe that the cost of health insurance will go up or stay the same. Nearly 80% of respondents believe that the cost of prescription medications would go up or stay the same. Female respondents, in particular, believe prescription drugs will become more expensive.

The battle over health care is in the early stages when it comes to political advertising, but both pro- and anti- Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) camps have already made significant investments to get their messages out. With Republicans unveiling their plan to replace Obamacare with the American Health Care Act, and focus shifting to key political races in 2018, the ad dollars will only grow.

“It’s not a boat load of money but it is very, very targeted money,” said Steve Passwaiter, vice president of Kantar Media CMAG, which tracks political advertising. “These are dollars that are being spent with a purpose and an underlying cause…We’re in the very early innings.”

Advertising in support of Obamacare has outpaced anti-ACA advertising so far this year, reaching $2.2 million between the first of the year and March 16th according to data from CMAG. The bulk of that advertising has centered on the Phoenix, Las Vegas and New York markets.

Meanwhile, anti-ACA advertising during the same period came in at $1.3 million, with focus on the Denver, San Diego and San Antonio markets.

Passwaiter said these calculated market buys say a lot about how vulnerable politicians from both parties in those markets may be heading into the 2018 election cycle.

“This is just going after people they think may ultimately be persuadable, and looking at the math for 2018 and saying ‘we should put some pressure on these people.’”

Source: Kantar, Kantar Media, Lightspeed

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