Understanding How Public Policy Changes Lead to Consumer Uncertainty in Affected Markets
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), more commonly known as Obamacare, young adults in the United States are allowed to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until they turn 26 years old. Although Obamacare remains controversial in Washington, we chose not to explore the politics of health care reform.
Instead, at Crimson Hexagon we were interested in learning more about the effects of such policies on consumer lifestyles—specifically, how policies such as these both directly and indirectly lead to consumer indecision and uncertainty. We took the public pulse on social media through online conversation analysis to understand how prevailing anxieties regarding health insurance coverage are expressed online by this age group.
How does sentiment differ between individuals claiming they are still on their parents’ insurance plan versus those who now seek independent coverage?
Using Crimson Hexagon’s ForSight™ platform, we analyzed over 4,600 opinions on Twitter regarding health insurance coverage. The online conversation about health insurance among young Americans was split up into two relevant groups: (1) discussion by consumers who say that they are still on their parents’ plans and (2) discussion by consumers expressing that they no longer enjoy the benefits of these family plans.
We found that 24% of conversation involves consumers saying they are not knowledgeable about health insurance, despite currently being enrolled in a family plan. And over an 11-month period, this sentiment has increased by 17%. Sheltered under the umbrella of a family plan, these consumers miss some important details—and now discuss their lack of exposure to and knowledge of health insurance options. What’s more, 14% of the conversation involves discussion of parents’ employment status, in which consumers openly confess their concerns about how a parent’s job loss may adversely impact their coverage.
These individuals, who remain on their parents’ plans several years into their adult lives, seem to require more education about health insurance options. Once they are on their own, where do they turn for coverage?
Additionally, we identified a distinct sub-segment of the conversation in which consumers explicitly state they are turning 26 and are now in the market for a new plan (7% of the conversation). Another 7% are upset because their parents unexpectedly removed them from family plans before turning 26.
In regards to consumers who were recently removed from their parents’ health care plan, most are concerned with future medical treatment (46% of the conversation). Many worry about the costs of healthcare and how they will afford medications and treatment without the support of their parents.
Consumers also discuss hindrances they face in the current healthcare system. For example, some discuss that it is often a hassle to retrieve the family insurance card from their parents. This inconvenience results in frustration by these individuals, with some even citing treatment delays (3% of the conversation).
Through deep analysis of social media, insurance companies and healthcare providers can gain insight into the anxieties and lifestyles of consumers. These firms can learn a tremendous amount about disconnect between information and customer groups, as well as the most valued attributes of competitive solutions in the market.
In sum, consumers speak very candidly about insurance realities online, and openly discuss how insurance impacts their private lives. By using ForSight™ to analyze the online conversation, your company can understand your customers’ nuanced opinions and uncover opportunities to reach consumers through more effective messaging strategies.
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Do you think there are opportunities for healthcare and health insurance firms to better educate consumers? Tweet us your thoughts @crimsonhexagon!