The Media Need to Do More to Help People Navigate Obamacare

Yesterday, Tim Noah made a point in an MSNBC appearance that I think deserves a lot more attention. Media outlets have been doing lots of reporting on the problems of the Affordable Care Act rollout. What they haven't done is provided their audiences with practical information that could help them navigate the new system. Of course, most Americans don't have to do anything, since they have employer-provided insurance. But for all the attention we've been paying to the individual market, media outlets haven't done much to be of service. "The New York Times has published the URL for the New York exchange exactly twice," Noah said, "both before October first."

My experience in talking to journalists about the publication of this kind of thing—unsexy yet useful information, whether it's how to navigate a new health law or understanding where candidates stand on issues—is that they often think that addressing it once is enough. When you ask them about it, they'll say, "We did a piece on that three months ago." The problem is that for it to be effective, they have to do it repeatedly or people won't get it. What we have seen is that this information can be found somewhere on news outlets' websites (here's an example), but it isn't on the evening-news broadcast or in the print edition of the paper.

Of course, conservatives would allege that if a newspaper writes a guide to getting insurance through the new exchange, it has demonstrated its liberal bias and become an arm of the Obama administration. But it's the law. As of next year, if you don't get insurance through your employer, you need to go to an exchange. Media outlets would just be helping people do what they have to do. I suppose conservatives could also argue that if the local paper puts up a tool on its website that helps people find their polling places and tells them what the voting hours are, it's just trying to boost turnout, and everybody knows that helps Democrats. Or that if it reminds you to file your tax returns on April 15th, then it's just helping fund big government. Or that if it tells you to set your clocks back for daylight savings, it's just feeding the Illuminati/Bilderberg time-theft conspiracy.

People sometimes mock "news you can use" because it's often delivered in forms that aren't particularly useful ("There's a silent killer in your refrigerator right now!"). But helping citizens understand and respond to changes in the law is part of any major media outlet's mission. The fact that a law is controversial doesn't absolve them of the responsibility.

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Comments

It is not the business of The Media to inform, but to sell product, namely eyeballs. "The TV business is like the chicken business: the chickens think that because they are fed they are the customers."

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I am afraid almost all reports are asking the wrong questions about the Obamacare website. There were already 3 working websites vending health insurance for the federal government, fully tuned for a large user base. Why was Obamacare built from scratch? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be that contractors for the website were out to maximize the length and magnitude of their contracts; and the supervision of the contractors appeared to be out to lunch.

Providing a map through the working portion of the website is certainly a useful educational function that the press could provide. But the nonlinear pathways of the site are not well suited to linear presentation. Pretending that such a linear path is typical may simply be setting more users up to disappointment.

Obamacare is a total disaster -

mainly due to the Lamestream press feeding us a bunch of BS.

More BS won't help it...............................

No it's not.

Eventually the American people will embrace the ACA.
You just don't like that.

LOL, did Media Matters send you here so shovel that BS?
People don't embrace inferior products and services at higher costs.

Why should anyone support something so crappy?

The media hasn't done enough for Obama?? And I quite think healthcare.gov has been in the press enough already, no?

And now our tax dollars to produce TV commercials to sign young people up!!

Well, the American Prospect could have demonstrated their commitment to the idea by publishing the URLs for all the exchanges in this article. Liberals telling others what to do something they won't do themselves. What a surprise.

So the media's complicity in the deception used to ram this law through, and to re-elect Obama, wasn't enough for you? Even now, supporters can't be honest about its redistributionist foundation or the necessary implications of its "Payment Advisory Board." Halperin at least came pretty close to the truth recently and immediately came under fire from the left for daring to utter a truthful word about the IPAB. No, the media have done quite enough to support liberal deception. A house built on a foundation of lies is bound to fall eventually.

Go ahead. Find success stories....... (crickets chirping)...............

No, making people sign up on Medicaid that did not want to go on the dole due to their pride, is not a "success". Obamacare is an epic fail.

Go ahead. Find success stories....... (crickets chirping)...............

No, making people sign up on Medicaid that did not want to go on the dole due to their pride, is not a "success". Obamacare is an epic fail.

Yes, this is all the media's responsibility. Lets forget we have "Navigators" hired to help people navigate this mess, some with questionable backgrounds and skills to even hold such jobs!! Does the gov't provide me with navigators to purchase my car insurance, or a mattress or a car??? Good God, are people such idiots... guess liberal believe so!

While they're at it, why not educate people on the immigration laws which the Obama administration refuses to enforce.

Just what's needed, more uncritical cheerleading by the media. You think Obama hasn't gotten enough of a free pass by press? I also seems pretty evident that no amount of polishing this moronic law will make it any more attractive.

EXACTLY!!!
You mean like the shameless propaganda that got him elected, with multiple cronies going up in the news about how great this law was, and that you could keep your plan, you could keep your doctor and that household would pay 2,500 less????
Well they were lies, an insult to Americans, treating them like conartist' victims, that could be lied and never would wise up. SOORRRYYY, THE CHICKENS HAVE COME BACK TO ROOST SUCKERS!!

It is now obvious that Obamacare will gut the middle class. Only hard-core die-hard Democrats are still supporting it in the face of Obama's complete and total lie to the American people.

If the media had done its job, there would not be an ACA in this form. Where was the media to provide the facts about this disaster prior to the botched rollout? Where was the media telling us that this will cost more than what we were being told, offer less, and that you can keep your current insurance was a lie? Where was the media when doctors were telling us they won't accept these lower reimbursements and 65 percent of the doctors in California won't accept the exchange policies? Now you want the media to convince us this is a good thing? That's propaganda, not media. The media should be telling us the truth, not campaigning for a failed piece of one-sided legislation.

Really? The media needs to do more? I thought the media was supposed to report the truth, and the truth is the NYT was doing both its readers and the Obama regime a huge favor by not publishing the website address more. IT DOENS"T WORK, REMEMBER. Worse it isn't secure. Any media outlet that publishes the website address and urges its readers to go sign up is lining them up like pigs to the slaughter for identity theft. Besides Obama is pending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to advertise the fraud he and the democrats have forced on the nation. "If you like your healthcare plan you can keep your healthcare plan, PERIOD! The media really should participate in LIES and FRAUD?

Putting more gravy on cow dung and calling it mashed potatoes is not going to make it taste any better. The media has already epically failed the public by parroting Democratic talking points (e.g. if you like your plan you can keep it) without actually reading the law to see if the claims were true (or worse, knowing the truth but not reporting it to protect the President). It's wise advice that when you're in a hole to stop digging! The media fooled the public once by covering Pres. Obama's cow dung with gravy--and all was well until we actually got a taste. Now that we've had a taste, the media's complicity is clear, adding more gravy is not going to make it taste any better. Here's a novel idea: stop digging, stop apologizing for the President, tell us the truth, and hold our government accountable! Isn't that what you're supposed to do?

You mean like the shameless propaganda that got him elected, with multiple cronies going up in the news about how great this law was, and that you could keep your plan, you could keep your doctor and that household would pay 2,500 less????
Well they were lies, an insult to Americans, treating them like conartist' victims, that could be lied and never would wise up. SOORRRYYY, THE CHICKENS HAVE COME BACK TO ROOST SUCKERS!!

Several years ago I had an exchange with Waldman on DailyKos. He was passionately arguing to save the filibuster, decrying the "voice of the minority" being taken away. I challenged both he and another diarist, Armando, on whether they would change their tune if roles were reversed in the future. Waldman lied, and said he would stick to his position. Armando, to his credit, admitted he might change his mind depending on the circumstances. Then when a Dem majority appeared along with a Dem President, the "voice of the minority" was redefined by Waldman as "obstructionism," and, surprise, surprise, he changed his tune.

I guarantee that if in the future a Republican President and Republican congress slams some controversial law down the throat of a Dem minority with no Republican votes, and it is upheld by a slim majority of the Supreme Court, Waldman won't be among those clamoring for the media to "promote the law." He'll be among those crying about the voice of the minority and telling them media to be critical. This isn't really about the media "doing it's job," it's really about the unpopularity of a law that depends heavily on popularity. Waldman and his ilk need the media to to a snow job on those who aren't in love with Obamacare. Because that's who Waldman is. A left-wing partisan socialist. Nothing more, nothing less.

The problem with the idea is this;
They don't sell CREDIBILITY at Home Depot, Walmart. orTarget.
The "Press" has squandered the credibility that took generations to accumulate on this "Smartest man who ever drew breath", and it has Zero left.
How can the "Press" give to the government what it does not have, the faith of the public?

Rubbish. The media should not be taking sides in Obamacare. As we've seen, it's too likely to result in partisanship. We will prosper best when we have an informed electorate, not when we have a convinced electorate, sold on an agenda.

"The Media Need to Do More to Help People Navigate Obamacare"

"The Media" isn't--or, at least, shouldn't be--the propaganda arm of government.

how delusional. Yes, the media should have done more to figure out what the impact of the law was and the lies said to sell it. Yes, they were the lapdogs of the President and still are to some degree.

but really, they know what is going on now, to some degree (not deeply as they do not understand the next round and what is doing to the rest of the health care system that i am seeing from my friends in the medical profession and my deep understanding on what is happening to my company's fairly good health plan that is being watered down to avoid the "cadillac" tax). To expect them to sell the unpopular - wow!

"The fact that a law is controversial doesn't absolve them of their resonsibility to guide the public through it."

I think the majority of the media is already being responsible, by telling the truth about what Obamacare is really doing to people, for a change. Trying to cover up the myriad of problems the program is having would really be the irresponsible move, in my opinion. Also, all the current problems with Obamacare are so obvious, it would be hard for even the media pinheads to gloss them over.

By the way, you misspelled "responsibility" in your very first sentence.

1. Media has done enough. Media was overly complicit in getting this abomination passed.
2. Any system such as this that can't work without the media's help isn't much of a system and should be allowed to bomb.
3. Media is finally on to Obama (at least to some degree). They still like what he stands for but they don't trust him. Do you? If so, visit my website: www.bridgeforsale.con

The media already did their fair share. They never did focus on the flaws in the plan, the intent of the plan, or the deceits that turned it into law. Now that we have established ACA claims included outright lies, do they really want to risk being charged as co-conspirators?

The media already did their fair share. They never did focus on the flaws in the plan, the intent of the plan, or the deceits that turned it into law. Now that we have established ACA claims included outright lies, do they really want to risk being charged as co-conspirators?

This insipid rant is laughable. The msm has been Obo's lap dog from day one

Sorry guys, acting as the propaganda arm of the democratic party isn't really a function of a free press. Without some semblance of objectivity, you're just another partisan rag.

Isn't it a little insulting to say that people can't comprehend these things unless they're repeated many times? Speak for yourself, Mr. Waldman.

mardyer,

Mr. Waldman is preaching to the choir, liberal democrats for the most part are pretty ignorant people unable to do much without direction from on high with "on high" being liberal politicians and the elitist Illuminati. Mr. Waldman's circle of acquaintances and coworkers are pretty much all the same as he is and thus he doesn't realize that there are people who take the initiative to investigate things that one of his own who shouts out that we have to pass the bill in order to find out what's in it. Rational people don't trust someone that stupid or duplicitous so we look into things and find that the Great Oz or the Great Ob are really hollow little charlatans with nobody's interests in mind other than their own.

So, yeah, liberals

    are

-- for the most part -- people who can't think for themselves or act on anything without Mr. Waldman and his cronies' "advice".

"As of next year, if you don't get insurance through your employer, you need to go to an exchange."

Actually, as far as I know, it will still be legal to purchase an insurance policy without using the exchanges. If you aren't qualified for one of the subsidies, or if you don't like the lousy policies offered on the exchanges, you can even (at least in Connecticut, where I live) buy a better policy by dealing directly with the insurance company.

Where is it written that the Media have a responsibility to do anything, Paul? Because they are mostly liberals? And, as for your assertion that "it's the law", prepare yourself for millions of people ignoring the law. Then, get ready for the backlash, when the IRS fines millions of people for ignoring the law. It is amusing to watch the outrage from the Left, when the media finally woke up (after 5 years) and realized that they really need to report the bad stuff that Obama does (if they want anyone besides hard core liberals to watch).

What Paul is suggesting is called "propaganda" which is a poor substitute for journalism.

Mr. Waldman, was it your position that the news media should have been far more interested in educating the public regarding the consequence of Obamacare prior to it's passage? Should the media have alerted us multiple times that the President was pushing lies?

I think the mainstream media have done enough damage, thank you, when it comes to Obama! It't all they can do to find the news and report it objectively.

Frankensurance is dead in the water. The Dems and Obama created this mess in the dark, in secret. They perpetuated the biggest scam and fraud against the America people. The Village is hunting it down to kill it. No need to do anything except let it die.

The scary part about this column is that Waldman is serious. He really does believe the media has a responsibility to help the Obama admin sell the law . This is what Americans get for putting socialists in power.

This article reminds me of that benchmark article of 1966, "The Media needs to do more to help people navigate LBJ's salvation of Vet Nam." Strange how the people and the media turned on that one?

I agree with the author. In my area of the country, the San Francisco Bay Area, I have yet to read of or see one positive story of someone enrolling in the CA Exchange. Thousands have done so already, but all we have gotten so far are stories of folks who make too much to qualify for a subsidy but still want to have their old policy back at the same cost, even though that old policy is probably full of holes and limitations should someone get really sick. Hopefully, a wave of positive stories will be coming. It's almost like reporters have to see someone else do something positive before they will consider it, themselves. That is really gutless. That is NOT balanced reporting.

@crossinsgs, you obviously are one of the "progressives" with group insurance. You don't know anyone with individual insurance -- it's obvious from your comment -- yet you are willing to pronounce a series of lies about how people whose policies have been cancelled " still want to have their old policy back at the same cost, even though that old policy is probably full of holes and limitations should someone get really sick." What's even more pathetic the likelihood that you regard yourself as someone smarter, more diligent, and more open minded than those evil Republicans.

We could cut the smugness around here with a knife.

If the big bad media did what this article suggested, the Obamacare website would crash in five minutes. And then Waldman would yell at them for that. In Obamaland, nothing is his own fault.

I've been in broadcasting for 40 years, including a number of years as a news director. Waldman is clearly clueless. It is absolutely NOT the media's job to help people navigate Obamacare. It is the media's job to report the news.

By the way, Waldman, Rupert Murdoch does what you want him to do. But you just couldn't bring yourself to mention it, could you?

http://tinyurl.com/wsjexchgd

Boy, the title of this article ironic. I didn't realize the media was the propaganda arm of our government. Oh, wait....

How a journalist or pundit can write this article without a sense of shame is mind blowing. Do journalism schools now have a government rhetoric and deflection introductory class? Hmmm?

When this was passed into law, you should've done you JOB in reporting the news about the law and it's effects, not try to help salvage a law now that it's passed. Pathetic.

Don't use the word ironic, when you don't know what it means.

When you ask them about it, they'll say, "We did a piece on that three months ago."

Lame excuse. How many stories have they done on the broken website? How many have they done on people getting their insurance canceled and having their premiums rise? And when they do these stories, they fail to investigate if the "victims" sought out coverage on the exchanges or whether they are eligible for subsidies. That information is readily available, even without a fully functioning website. The MSM has been very lazy when it comes to reporting on the ACA. Faux News has their own agenda, as always.

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