Social Media and Internet Analysis Presage Future Directions in Healthcare Reform
DALLAS & AUSTIN, Texas – September 28, 2010 – The Healthcare Reform effort has faltered in the public mind as projected by the Healthcare NarrativeTracker™ Index (HNTI™) over the last several months. The results of the Healthcare NarrativeTracker Index were reported over the previous four months in a series of joint announcements by OpenConnect, the Dallas-based leader in process intelligence and analytics solutions, and Austin-based Global Language Monitor, the media analytics company.
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“It seems that healthcare reform was never really ‘Paid For’ as promised to the American people. The unfortunate reality is one of sharply rising premiums, severely reduced options for coverage and continued out-of-control spending,” said Edward M.L. Peters, CEO of OpenConnect. “The only way to solve this problem is through a comprehensive cost improvement program that focuses on all sectors of the healthcare industry. Saving just $.04 on every healthcare dollar would yield more than enough savings to make this program truly ‘Paid For’ without raising taxes, reducing benefits or cutting reimbursements for services.”
Since being launched earlier this spring, the Healthcare Narrative Tracker Index has found:
- Growing concern regarding out-of-control cost increases. Analyses now show that the original cost projections have risen even more steeply as insurance companies race ahead to enact changes in their plans and rises in the price of premiums ahead of implementation.
- Increasing national concern about the inability to keep one’s current insurance. This in spite of the president’s oft-stated assertion that “if you like your current health insurance plan, you will be able to keep it.”
Though the President’s statement is technically true, it is now evident that many of those same plans are now being altered, eliminated, or priced out of reach of their current customers. Therefore, according to HNTI, the president’s statement is viewed with deep suspicion.
- Sharply rising concern about adding to the deficit. President Barack Obama repeatedly asserted during the healthcare debate that the overhaul legislation would bring down fast-rising health care costs and save money – and not add a penny to the deficit.
- At a recent press conference, President Obama offered some caveats when asked about the apparent discrepancy between his promises and the current reality of rising premiums and prices. For example, Medicare’s Office of the Actuary confirmed that healthcare costs would continue to rise, at least through 2019. However, the Congressional Budget Office has recently reaffirmed its earlier finding that the Healthcare Reform effort will reduce the deficit in the long-run. Nevertheless, in contradiction to these statements, the HNTI has been ahead of the curve in tracking public perception as well as the future trajectory of the issue.
In a related development, the US Census Bureau announced earlier this week that the number of uninsured Americans grew to 50.7 million in 2009, now 16.7% of the population, rising from 46.3 million and 15.4% in 2008. Also noted was the decline in number of insured through their employer, falling from 176.3 million to 169.7 million in 2009. If this trend continues through 2010 and into 2011, it will only exacerbate the problem of funding the Healthcare Reform effort, since there will be significantly fewer people to help fund the mandate.
“The value of the Healthcare NarrativeTracker Index clearly extends to its predictive ability,” said Dave Hill, long-time industry observer and principle of Mesabi Associates, the Massachusetts-based technology consulting firm. “Including social media in the mix of Internet and electronic and print media sources provides a very clear (and accurate) snapshot of what the people are actually thinking. The predictive element only adds to the Healthcare NarrativeTracker’s power.”
The Healthcare NTI is based on the national discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic related to healthcare, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the print and electronic media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter). In addition to the NTI, the NarrativeTracker Arc™ follows the rise and fall of sub-stories within the main narrative to provide a comprehensive overview of the narratives being tracked.
In a separate release tracking the Top Political Buzzwords of the Mid-term elections, the Global Language Monitor has found that Healthcare Reform-related buzzwords have fallen sharply and now rank at No. 21 on the list, while No. 13 Deficit Spending, No. 15 Out-of-control Spending, and No. 17 Healthcare Mandate are in ascendance.