How much does the news media's chronic quest for drama adds to the public's misinformation? How many headlines talk about the myths concerning this or that? Reporters love to stir the crap pot. I get it, fluffy, good news doesn't sell or get clicks. Is it any wonder the average person is largely clueless about the Affordable Care Act?
This headline annoys me. It's like NBC had no hand in the misinformation. Is it any wonder that 42% of poll respondents didn't know the ACA is law? What is the media doing to reduce the current 49% of respondents who say they don't have enough information about how ACA will affect their families? Could the idea that most of the coverage is negative might have something to do with the misconceptions?
Language and framing matters. Studies prove people remember debunkings as true rather than false. It's not what we think as much as it's about how we think (pdf). It may be more fun to write about the myths, inaccuracies and negatives, but it's better informatively speaking to write about the accuracies. So, how many myths about Obamacare do you know? How many accuracies? Thought so, thanks to the mainstream media playing to your fears and confirmation bias, they've merged in your head.
Who Gave the Misinformation?
Every time a major media outlet covers a Congressional member, Senator, Pundit or political wannabe without correcting their nonsensical assertions; they misinform the public. Showing or quoting Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Glen Beck or Lindsey Graham speaking about ACA may be salacious, but it is also most likely to be wrong. Why give these jerks credibility? And, Geezus on a pogo stick! NBC, do you have to print a link to a foxnews.com site in quoting Max Baucus? Everytime they show one of these nuts spewing bullshit they repeat the false information, which after a while, becomes true to low information people.
When was the last time you heard or read anything about the healthcare.gov website? It's very helpful. This website has been updated as the law has been implemented. A major improvement was introduced yesterday. Most of the coverage focused on how bad it was, not how much better it is. The Smoke Free America survey gives the respondent information about the topic at the end of the survey. NBC's poll didn't perform this public service.
I understand that taking the time to write about how efficacy studies will benefit us all and explaining how a committee is supposed to make suggestions for making our health care system more efficient is complicated; but that's the job (pdf) of the health care reporter. The media has failed at parsing this law that contains over 100 provisions. I get it that "Death Panels" gets more clicks than "Independent Payment Advisory Board", but allowing anyone to equate these two concepts is misinformation. Simply writing there are no "death panels" fails for the reason stated above. Showing wing nuts saying the term and/or quoting the term incessantly further spread misinformation. The media double fails on how ACA starts a conversation on the bloat in our health care system.
Writing warnings may be a public service, but why not write about the subsidies too? We know the IRS will be in charge of rendering the ACA tax credits. Did you know those tax credits will be made available immediately after application? That's big. What the media did in this case was write about how the tax credit would be forwarded directly to the selected insurance carrier as a negative. Now, I understand we hate insurance companies around here, but if you don't have the cash to front your premium payment, having the IRS do it for you is not a bad thing. One news affiliate pointed out that you could get money to pay for your insurance you don't qualify for and (gasp!) might be expected to pay it back. In my book, refunding money you aren't entitled to is the right thing to do, but in this case the news article acts like like refunding the government is increasing your taxes. They are also slow in pointing out that the repayment of overdrawn subsidies are capped for lower income recipients. The news media focuses on the penalties, not the tax credits and how they will help people. That's misinformation.
Why not tout the Medicaid expansion to 1.38% of the poverty rate? Why not call out the states who refuse to expand Medicaid as idiots? Turning down 100% funding of the expansion for three years and 90% funding thereafter is like turning down a free lunch 1,000 times. How about a headline that says "Another Idiot Governor Turns Down Medicaid Expansion" or maybe, "Defining Idiocy, Turning Down Medicaid Expansion"? Ok, this last one is fantasy, but I can dream.
Isn't the main purpose of the news media to "inform"? That may be the "official" purpose, but our current media's primary job is to make money. So, we get what we've got and what we got isn't good at explaining the Affordable Care Act.
Thu May 02, 2013 at 6:17 AM PT: Good Morning. Thank you Rescue Rangers. I hope all of you who read this find the link to Healthcare.gov helpful.