REPORT: Top Newspapers Shift Discussion On Obamacare From Political Debate To Benefits And Enrollment

America's top newspapers focused their coverage of health care reform on its political implications while largely ignoring its real-world impact in the week before the health care exchanges opened. Those papers have since shifted their focus, with most articles highlighting benefits under the law and enrollment in the exchanges in the week after the Obama administration relaunched the website.

Five Top Newspapers Discussed The Political Debate Over Obamacare More Than Benefits Or Enrollment Before The Exchanges Opened. In the week before the health care exchanges opened on October 1, the Los Angeles TimesThe New York TimesUSA TodayThe Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post together published more articles mentioning the political debate surrounding President Obama's signature legislative achievement than those mentioning the benefits of the new law or the prospects of enrollees.

Newspapers Later Shifted Focus Toward Benefits And Enrollment. In the week after the Obama administration “relaunched” the website on December 1, a higher percentage of articles in those same papers discussed the new website while a lower percentage featured the ongoing political debate surrounding the Affordable Care Act.


Media Matters reviewed all articles from the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post for all mentions of “Obama Care,” “Obamacare,” “Health Care,” “Healthcare,” or “Affordable Care Act” between September 22 and 29, 2013 and December 1 and 7, 2013. Any articles about the Affordable Care Act or those substantially mentioning the Affordable Care Act were included in the study. Articles were coded for whether they discussed the political debate, benefits or enrollment, or both.

Charts by Oliver Willis.