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J Med Internet Res. 2015 Feb 23;17(2):e51. doi: 10.2196/jmir.3812.

Twitter sentiment predicts Affordable Care Act marketplace enrollment.

Author information

1
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States. charwong@upenn.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Traditional metrics of the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and health insurance marketplaces in the United States include public opinion polls and marketplace enrollment, which are published with a lag of weeks to months. In this rapidly changing environment, a real-time barometer of public opinion with a mechanism to identify emerging issues would be valuable.

OBJECTIVE:

We sought to evaluate Twitter's role as a real-time barometer of public sentiment on the ACA and to determine if Twitter sentiment (the positivity or negativity of tweets) could be predictive of state-level marketplace enrollment.

METHODS:

We retrospectively collected 977,303 ACA-related tweets in March 2014 and then tested a correlation of Twitter sentiment with marketplace enrollment by state.

RESULTS:

A 0.10 increase in the sentiment score was associated with an 8.7% increase in enrollment at the state level (95% CI 1.32-16.13; P=.02), a correlation that remained significant when adjusting for state Medicaid expansion (P=.02) or use of a state-based marketplace (P=.03).

CONCLUSIONS:

This correlation indicates Twitter's potential as a real-time monitoring strategy for future marketplace enrollment periods; marketplaces could systematically track Twitter sentiment to more rapidly identify enrollment changes and potentially emerging issues. As a repository of free and accessible consumer-generated opinions, this study reveals a novel role for Twitter in the health policy landscape.

KEYWORDS:

affordable care act; health insurance marketplace; social media

PMID:
25707038
PMCID:
PMC4376155
DOI:
10.2196/jmir.3812
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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