President Obama’s health reform bill, commonly referred to as Obamacare, has been mired in technical problems and at the center of fierce political fights since its troubled launch. While the law has long divided the American electorate, vitriol surrounding it may have hit all time highs in October, November, and December. Glitches forced a complete revamping of the main access point for consumers to buy insurance on the federal exchange, Healthcare.gov, while millions of Americans waited in queues and questioned whether their information had actually been processed. Still more would take to the Internet to express their political opinions regarding the law.
In supermarkets, long wait times often lead to consumers complaining smartphone in hand, about bad service, the magazine selection and anything else that may have gone wrong that trip—with something as delicate as healthcare DataRank wondered if browsing consumers might turn to social media to share their experiences. Fortunately for our analysis, and less so for Mr. Obama, they did.
Beginning with the program’s October 1st launch, consumers noticed delays, bugs, and crashes-these problems have persisted, to a lesser degree after early December-appearing in just more than 10% of comments over the three month period with the greatest concentration of these comments coming in October. Price was another area of contention appearing in nearly 9% of comments. These comments tended to blame the law for increases in costs or feature discussion related to the hundreds of thousands of plans which were slated to be canceled due to non-compliance with the law’s standards.
While just under one in four comments were related to some aspect of the website or the law’s impact on a health insurance policy, the remaining three quarters of comments represented a digital political arena as millions of Americans praised or scorned the changes to the healthcare system.
In the three-month period since the healthcare exchange’s debut, Obamacare has seen a decline in positive sentiment, as measured by DataRank and traditional polling. Negativity reached its height in mid-November as bad experiences and comments by the laws detractors increased in volume while supporters found difficulties troublesome to defend, resulting in a corresponding decrease in positive comment volume and sentiment.
DataRank Sentiment and Polling Approval for the Affordable Care Act
As politicians look to the 2014 mid-term elections, many Democrats, particularly in republican leaning states, are finding Obamacare to be a heavy weight around their necks. In Arkansas for example, Mr. Obama’s health reform is seen through a substantially more negative lens than it is for the nation as a whole. This fact poses challenge for Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor, as well as for gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross. Due to Mr. Pryor’s vote for the bill in the Senate, he has suffered from association more than Mr. Ross, who voted against the final product in the House of Representatives. Mr. Pryor has been 2.4 times more likely to be mentioned alongside Obamacare in social media, and as DataRank sentiment data and polls show few of his constituents approved of his decision. Mr. Ross has so far escaped much of this criticism, but will likely not be free from it as the campaign for Governor progresses.
DataRank Sentiment (Arkansas) and Polling Approval (National Polling) for the Affordable Care Act