A few weeks ago, when the health insurance exchange marketplace rolled out, my roommate stomped into our apartment, ranting about how she doesn’t like “Obamacare.” The reason being that she will soon be twenty six years old and no longer able to remain on her parents’ insurance plan, meaning that she will be required to find a plan of her own. Despite the fact that she didn’t realize that it was “Obamacare” that allowed her to stay on her parents’ plan for as long as she did, she complained that her own plan will be too expensive. After I explained to her that she would likely qualify for subsidies if she applied through Cover Oregon, our state’s insurance exchange marketplace, she brought up her concern regarding her pre-existing condition. I found it surprising that she wasn’t aware that, come 2014, insurance companies will be legally prohibited from denying her for that reason. It was apparent to me that although discussion about “Obamacare” in the media was commonplace, the media wasn’t doing a very good job informing the population of what it actually is or does.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” is 906 pages long. It’s safe to say most people have not read it all the way through. I tried once; I don’t believe I made it farther than the table of contents. It’s exhaustive. Yet so many claim to be experts on the law and it’s surprising how much misinformation has been spread because of this. Therefore, common perception of the Affordable Care Act has been distorted because the media’s portrayal of the law has been misleading. Their intention, unfortunately, is not to just report straight facts, but to portray things in a way that will incite more controversy and result in more readers and/or viewers for their media outlet. The media reports in this way because, like other corporations, they are driven by profit and a larger audience will bring in more revenue for them.
The shift in the media’s representation of events is due to the deregulation of the Reagan era and the effects of our capitalistic society. Those in favor of this would argue that it is this capitalistic society that holds the media accountable and prevents them from sensationalizing news. They would say this is because in a capitalistic society, money talks and people pour money into things they like and eventually the best succeed; therefore, if a certain news organization is doing well, it is because they are succeeding in doing their job. However, this is not necessarily the case with our new media today. Their success no longer stems from doing their job well; it stems from their constant misrepresentation, sensationalization, and inaccuracy when it comes to the facts, as well as an ignorant audience and lack of variety in new options.
The lack of variety in news happens to be one of the most concerning issues when it comes to access to factual information and it is actually due to this capitalistic system that there...