I didn't watch the recent reports on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act on TV as I was at work, but did follow along through the web, instant messaging, Facebook and Twitter.
Along the way, I stumbled across a few things that surprised, amused, and annoyed me that I think speak to the state of media that all health marketers should appreciate.
I thought it fitting that some initial reporting of the decision mirrored the conflict voters have about the law itself. Some producers and reporters first declared the law unconstitutional after reading just the first few paragraphs of the court's ruling before ultimately realizing that the law will actually live on almost entirely intact.
So, too, have many Americans proclaimed they are against "Obamacare" while simultaneously being in favor of many of the law's benefits. Prior to the ruling, a New York Times/CBS news poll found that two-thirds of Americans wanted some or all of the law overturned while overwhelmingly supporting ACA benefits like pre-existing condition protections, enabling young adults to remain on their parents' insurance and the closing of the prescription donut hole.
Over the course of that historic day, and subsequent days, I stumbled upon the following:
A tweet from the Washington Post, which said, "1,590 Likes, 228 comments in 30 minutes: Our #SCOTUS post on Facebook http://wapo.st/OD00Dl." Yes, this is one of the biggest national papers in the U.S. bragging through Twitter about the impact of a Facebook post.
I heard through an instant message that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., sent a statement that says, "just because a couple of people on the Supreme Court declare something is constitutional doesn't mean it is constitutional." This prompted me to Google the word "supreme" to get the exact definition as part of a larger point that if you're on the Supreme Court, it does tend to carry more weight than say, a bunch of people gathered in a barber shop or a doctor’s office. In doing this search, I came upon an Obama Google ad that read, "I Like Obamacare | barackobama.com/Obamacare | Millions of people are better off because of it. Say you like it too."
Not bad, but I wonder if the administration would have been better served promoting a quiz that helped educate the public on the law itself. And thanks to the Kaiser Family Foundation, they wouldn't have even needed to build their own and risk looking partisan.
The quiz is a quick, simple means of educating the public on 10 key points of the law. It shows you how well you did, and even indicates how the rest of respondents fared. After taking the quiz, I learned that more than half of respondents answered half of the questions incorrectly. The most alarming question that most got wrong: "Will the health reform law allow a government panel to make decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare?" Fifty-eight percent of respondents incorrectly said yes. The question that the most people got wrong: "Will the health reform law require all businesses, even the smallest ones, to provide health insurance for their employees?" Only 25% of respondents answered correctly that it does not.
A major by-product to the Supreme Court's ruling is that the federal government cannot force states to expand its Medicaid coverage, leaving an opt-in decision for each state. This will require government officials, like National Association of Medicaid Directors Matt Salo, and others to try to do a better job of marketing the law than was done during its passage.
While there are many legitimate complaints about the law from both sides of the political spectrum, knowing where to start and where to find common ground is essential in working out later revisions to the law that strike a fair balance between patients, employers and various parts of the health care industry. So far, I haven't found a better place to start than Kaiser's quiz.
Taken as a whole, it’s more clear to me than ever that the media landscape is constantly evolving, and tools are getting more robust and bleeding beyond their traditional uses. The wise health marketers stay on top of these trends and leverage them in ways that help them educate their audiences in new and creative ways.