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,Heather Stauffer's PPACA blog posts ,ICYMI
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I am the 8 percent


Last week I found out that I am the 8 percent.

That is, you trust me more than Facebook — but not much. Just 3 percent of you trust social networks' information about the health care law "a lot," for which I applaud you. And only 8 percent of you trust the news media, for which I throw up my hands.

It is a gesture of exasperation, not despair, because I can partially understand how you would get there. As I keep telling you, Obamacare is incredibly complicated, and so is the entire health system it started with. The tons of information out there consist largely of projections and predictions, many of which at first glance starkly contradict each other. And, frankly, the survey's definition of "news media" includes cable TV news, national and local TV news, radio news, online news, newspapers, magazines and, ahem, talk radio.

But still — 8 percent? Lower than health insurance companies, friends and family, nonprofit or community organizations — deep breath — places of worship, employers, local pharmacists, state agencies, federal agencies, and your doctors and nurses (in that order)? Some of which have obvious financial interests in things going one way or another, and some of which by "raising awareness" have become virtual cheerleaders or booers, and some of which are likely un- or misinformed?

That stings. And it's likely to hurt you.

Obamacare isn't a user-friendly story. It's evolving, and it needs to be viewed in a lot of context, and unless you have at least a rudimentary knowledge of its big picture, you're likely to get an inaccurate impression from any one part. Listen to one side, and you'll hear just what it's supposed to do. Listen to another, and you'll hear just projections of what unintended consequences the changes might spawn.

This isn't a "close your eyes and listen to me" plea. This subject is definitely a challenge, and we in the news media are not perfect. What I am asking is, please stay engaged on this one, because it matters. Look for the big picture. Consider motivations. Search for indications of carefulness, of relevant research, of painting this messy scene accurately. Become a truly informed consumer of Obamacare information.

And I hope you find that we deserve a few more points.

• • •

I have an invitation to share with you, as follows.

Capital BlueCross and National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors of Greater Harrisburg invite you to a attend a free educational health care reform session featuring presentation by Benjamin Faesel, senior manager of health care reform implementation at Capital BlueCross. It is scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Radisson Harrisburg, 1150 Camp Hill Bypass, Camp Hill. A continental breakfast will be served.

To reserve your seat, RSVP to NAIFA of Greater Harrisburg at 717-652-6122 or 888-718-0092.

• • •

This study referenced here quoted the following findings of other studies that didn't really fit in my story. But I wanted you to see them, so here they are.

• Seventy-one percent of small firms that offered insurance in 2007 purchased their plans from an insurance broker.

• In 2011, 95.7 percent of establishments with 50 or more employees offered health insurance; only 35.7 percent of establishments with fewer than 50 employees did.

• Firms of up to 100 employees face similar loading fees (cost of premiums above the cost of claims incurred) of approximately 34 percent. Loads decline with firm size and are estimated to average 15 percent for firms with between 101 and 10,000 employees and 4 percent for firms with more than 10,000 workers.

• In 2011, 64 percent of firms with 50 or more employers that offered insurance self-insured at least one plan; only 12 percent of those with fewer than 50 employees did.

• • •

Capital BlueCross is conducting a "Snap. Share. Live Fearless" photo contest. It also has a Health Care University series of videos and quizzes. And speaking of insurer's videos on health care reform, here's one from Highmark Inc. And Independence Blue Cross, which really doesn't touch our area but has gotten attention for its unorthodox approaches to spreading awareness, also has an educational section on its site.

There are lots of opinions about the overall effects of Obamacare, but on one thing I think we can all agree: It's a boon for marketers.

• • •

This is an extraordinary argument.

• • •

Speaking of women and health care, once upon a time I read the story of Waris Dirie, but it seemed an exotic tale. I never thought that the Pennsylvania legislature might face a bill on the same subject.

• • •

This is an important read: "IRS Ruling On Same-Sex Couples Has Implications For Health Law."

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