All posts by The HCPM Team

Affordable Care Act gains social steam. Covered California leads social media race.

Federal Health Insurance Marketplace Glitches Drive Overall Online Conversation During First Week of Open Enrollment.

Social media MarketingSince the opening of the federal Health Insurance Marketplace on October 1st, the DC office of TogoRun, a global boutique communications company, has been on the scene monitoring and synthesizing thousands of online community discussions surrounding the launch and implementation of the marketplace and each state-based exchange.

It’s no mystery, driving the online discussion this week has been a myriad of programming issues and the public’s inability to complete online enrollment applications. Despite these setbacks and the domination of the traditional news cycle of the government shutdown, social media has been utilized heavily by state-based exchanges, navigators and outside advocacy groups to reach the uninsured.

Key Takeaways

  • Overall sentiment for ACA, across all online communities, leans unfavorably: favorable – 41.4%; and, unfavorable – 58.5%.
  • California, with a robust year-long paid advertising campaign, has garnered the largest social media following and leads in online discussion nationally.
  • States with larger regional pockets with a high number of uninsured are trending highest.

Oct 1 – Oct 8, 2013 (Week 1)

The following analysis contextualizes the online discussion on blogs, mainstream media, Facebook and micro-media, or Twitter, relating to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act for the period of October 1 through October 8.

TogoRun analyzed the number of discussions pertaining to ACA and Obamacare from 10/1 to 10/8, and determined that there were over 651,000 mentions across all online communities. As expected, Twitter, the micro-media platform, carries the majority of all online discussions with over 58.1%, or 378,704 total mentions, with Facebook at 12.3% or (u: 80,700*), news groups at 13.1% (u: 85,431), forums at 9.1% (u: 59,495) and blogs at 7% (u: 46,057) trailing far behind.

Of the total online mentions (651,812*), there were approximately 207,512 or 31.8% % unique online conversations/verbatims where tonality could be ascribed. Of these mentions, approximately 85,941 or 41.4% were favorable and 121,571 or 58.5% were unfavorable.

Overall discussion highlights

The graphs below depict the overall conversation by major online communities such as Facebook, twitter, blogs, digital news media and forums. The colors illustrate the specific community groups.

On day 1 of the state and federal insurance exchanges opening, online conversations peaked at an aggregate count of 120,000+ mentions. Trailing off over the course of the past week, daily discussion volumes have declined to approximately 40,000 mentions with sentiment holding true to the ebb and flow of the overall volume of discussion.

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The graph below depicts sentiment levels by day, and overall favorability ratings for the week. Due to the fact that Facebook is a walled garden, monitoring platforms are limited to searching only open group pages.

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The graph below shows online discussion by state. It is evident that states with larger regional pockets with a high uninsured population are trending highest.

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Over the course of the week’s discussion, top key words, or hashtags, on Twitter included the following:

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California leads overall social media follower race. Most states garnering following organically with a median of 1,123 followers.

As part of our methodology, we manually calculated all state health exchanges social media follower counts. In a social media spectrum, follower counts help distribute messages at a low cost and enhance a social media campaign’s engagement ratio. In states that are not running their own exchange, we have derived calculations from top navigator grant recipients, or other prominent groups working to educate the public about health care reform and exchanges.

Across the 47 states that have a social media presence, the total follower count as of the end of the day October 7 tops out at 183,457 followers/likes, with a median of 1,123.

By our count, it’s apparent that California leads the social media race – making up 22.5 times the national average of social media followers.


The above charts contextualize the online discussion on social media, blogs, mainstream media, and micro-media, or Twitter, relating to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges for the period of October 1 through October 8. All volume, dispersion and sentiment measurements were determined using data extracted from Sysomos unless otherwise noted.
Online volume is a measurement of the number of relevant discussions that took place in a given time period. A discussion is defined as one comment or mention posted online. Tracking volume allows us to identify which platforms people are using to discuss ACA and/or Obamacare, and which have little permeation.
Dispersion refers to both the number of individual online communities hosting relevant conversation and the number of categories, or “demographics”. Online, people tend to congregate in communities where they share common interests or passions with other community members – such as health, wellness, finance and general interest sites. In other cases, people will gather within sites designed specifically to cater to the needs of a certain population (demographic/psychographic) segment – such as local communities. TogoRun defines these categories as “demographics” or “communities”.
Query terms used for social monitoring: “Health Insurance Exchange” OR “Health insurance marketplace” OR ACA OR “Affordable Care Act” OR HIE OR HIX OR medicaid OR medicare OR obamacare OR PPACA OR “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”
*Facebook counts for 10/4-10/8.


HIX News Roundup: Reaching the public in a busy news cycle

Today, as expected, there is a flurry of activity in the health care communications world about the opening of health insurance marketplaces across the country. Nearly one million people logged on to before 7:00a.m. this morning, and many news reports have focused on delays, glitches and long waiting periods.

President Obama recently finished addressing the nation from the Rose Garden in an attempt to cut through a busy news cycle clogged with news of the government shutdown. Like the President’s attempts to reach out directly to the American people by telling personal stories of those affected by the Affordable Care Act, advocacy groups on the ground continue their efforts to educate the public about the insurance exchanges.

Here is a roundup of news reports from the past two days about communications campaigns in various states:

The Providence Journal reports that state officials have unveiled a new campaign to generate interest in, and customers for, the state’s new health care insurance marketplace. The campaign invokes iconic Rhode Island images such as the Independent Man, Roger Williams and Slater Mill’s role in starting the American Industrial Revolution.

CNBC reports on the massive, billion-dollar effort to persuade millions of Americans to buy insurance on the new health exchanges and the challenges faced by the thousands of volunteers, government agencies, churches, unions, pharmacies, and professional organizations that are working to educate the public about the exchanges.

Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, reports on the Young Invincibles and its nationwide awareness and education campaign about the available options for health insurance for college students and young adults.

The Associated Press reports that in Pennsylvania, advocacy organizations, health care professionals and not-for-profit agencies are focusing communications efforts on health exchange education campaigns that include going door-to-door canvassing in high poverty areas, setting up offices in community health centers and holding question-and-answer sessions at public libraries and elsewhere.

The Associated Press reports that people who don’t have health care through their employers can apply online, via a call center, in person or by mail. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have released a video to help walk people through applying.

The Washington Post reports on the advertising campaigns aimed at educating the public that have been underway for months and how the number of Google searches for “Obamacare” and “health care” may be losing ground to searches for “Shutdown.”