Independent Study: The Affordable Healthcare Act and New Media

I’m using my final blog post for this course to discuss the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare.” I asked almost every one of my subject matter experts about the ACA and how it had impacted their communications efforts—each person conveyed that it pushed the need to communicate directly with consumers, something they hadn’t been as accustomed to doing in the past. And they all spoke of how new media played a critical role in communicating with consumers.

Say what you will about the ACA, but it has changed the landscape of how consumers are using, viewing, and purchasing healthcare. It’s impacting how they interact with their healthcare providers. And, of course, consumers have to be more informed in order to make decisions for their own health insurance and healthcare needs. Prior to the Affordable Care Act and the ACA exchanges, most people went without healthcare, or purchased or were given health insurance through an employer.

The ACA really leveled the playing field, but left many at a disadvantage. Reviewing health insurance policies went from the job of an HR benefits administrator with a formal training and education in the field, to something the average American now had responsibility to do.

So, how did people learn? Here are a few great ACA resources.

We’ve all heard the stories of crashing as individuals sought to enroll. Despite it’s rocky start, is the clearinghouse of everything ACA. It’s organized in an interesting, clean way—employing icons, it’s responsive, hosts a robust blog, and pertinent information is easily accessible and jargon-free. Or at least as jargon-free as it can be—it’s healthcare after all.

The actual act is thousands of pages long—but how did organizations pull the most important information, grouped in the most effective way? I think many health systems did an excellent job of presenting information to the right person, at the right time. I love how Kaiser Permanente organized their ACA page by audience—insured through employer, insured on their own, insured by Medicare, or for someone without insurance at all. The most pertinent information is presented first and likely next steps are outlined in easy to understand language.

One of my most favorite pieces of new media was President Obama’s interview on Between Two Ferns where he outlines how to get covered and many high level points on the ACA. I love the humorous approach and appeal to a younger audience on a pretty stuffy topic.

Not only are the new media pieces explaining actual coverage, the site features a brief video history framing the significance of the act for Americans. Communicating health policy and the magnitude of those policies is often difficult. This video does a great job in just over a minute.




Our recent election leaves the future of the Affordable Care Act’s in question, but for all stated pitfalls of the program, I truly believe the ACA empowered consumers to learn, make decisions and take steps to own their own healthcare. And new media played a huge role in that movement.



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