Social media shows little love for health insurers

70% of comments on US health insurers across social media are negative; click to enlarage

Health insurers  get little love from social media, according to a recent report from Amplicate, which monitors topics and opinions across social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Amplicate found 70% of all opinions expressed on US health insurance companies over the last 12 months were negative.

Amplicate tracks the use of the words “love” and “hate” across social media updates regarding companies, industries and political issues to aggregate popular opinion.

Aetna earned the unwelcome distinction of most hated insurer. Only 9% of users expressing positive views of the company in the last year. Believe it or not, however, the industry has actually fared worse on social media in the past.

According to Amplicate, in January 2011 85% of comments on health insurers were negative–a result of insurers raising premiums in the face of the economic downturn.

Amplicate’s report pages on individual companies offer a sample of Tweets and Facebook updates related to the selected firm. Aetna’s isn’t pretty. User snarkyvegan’s tweet was typical:

Aetna sucks: current renewal letter headline reads “Renewal made easy—it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3” followed by a 16-page document, all charts.

Other complaints range from customer service, to rescheduled appointments, to denial of pre-existing conditions–the usual suspects when it comes to unhappy policyholders.

Medicare, the US social insurance program, fared badly as well. 56% of mentions expressing hatred for the program. Ironically, US healthcare reform (identified by the “hashtag” #hcr) is even less popular than insurers at the moment. 79% of mentions expressed hatred of either the concept or its implementation by the Obama administration.

International PMI firm Bupa was considerably more popular as of this post’s writing, beating out all its US counterparts with a “Love” rating of 52%.

There are undoubtedly issues with Amplicate’s methodology. Tracking “love” and “hate” is a pretty rough-hewn metric–one easily skewed by someone discussing someone else’s hatred of a company or program.

Still, it’s fairly obvious that healthcare systems and insurers have a serious image problem (the UK’s NHS has a “Hate” rating of 56%). American and European food companies are “loved” by 89% and 83%, respectively. Airlines are “loved” by 57% (though budget carrier Ryanair is hated by 82%). Even oil and Shell are more loved than hated (the same can’t be said for BP).

Amplicate’s data shows people are seriously unhappy with their healthcare, regardless of where it’s coming from. The question facing the industry and world governments is what, if anything, to do about it.