Frequently Asked Questions About the RAND Health Reform Opinion Study

  • How is the RAND Health Reform Opinion Study (RHROS) different from other polls?

    We observe the evolution of opinion over time rather than inferring how opinion changes.

    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.

    We survey the same respondents each month.

    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.

    We survey more individuals.

    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.

  • How does the RAND Health Reform Opinion Study (RHROS) work?

    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.

  • What questions does the RAND Health Reform Opinion Study (RHROS) ask?

    The RHROS includes three main questions to assess individuals' opinions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA):

    • As you may know, a health reform bill (the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare) will take effect in 2014. Given what you know about the reform law, do you have a generally favorable or unfavorable opinion of it?
    • Do you think you and your family will be better or worse off under the reform law or don't you think it will make much difference?
    • Do you think the country as a whole will be better or worse off under the reform law or don't you think it will make much difference?

    It also asks about health insurance coverage for 2014:

    • Do you currently have health insurance that will cover you in 2014?
    • Which coverage options have you chosen for health insurance in 2014?

    Finally, the RHROS includes one question that changes over time to respond to current events:

    We asked about the and state health insurance marketplace websites.
    We asked about how people expect the ACA to affect them and their families.
    We asked about whether or not individuals expected their insurance for 2014 to cover the same health care providers that they used in 2013.