Healthcare reform or as it’s formally known, the Affordable Care Act, is a volatile and polarizing issue among healthcare insurers. When President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 it sent ripples throughout the healthcare insurance industry. No other single issue has caused so much controversy in recent years among insurers and politicians alike. It is a multibillion dollar enforcement that will affect nearly every American at some point in their lifetimes. Opinions vary from enthrallment to treasonous. There are a multitude of websites that portray all types of bias, pseudo-authoritative dictation and questionable authenticity. I will present a comparison of two well known but differing websites for this study: Whitehouse.org and Wikipedia.com. Authenticity, authority and objectivity will be discussed and presented in this research paper.
The first website in this discussion is Whitehouse.org. Since this is the federal government’s official presidential website, the authority is without question. It is important to note that while that authority is challenged by member of opposing political party, the implied authority has been established by the constitution of the United States. Whitehouse.org provides a comprehensive “myths and facts” page regarding the Affordable Care Act. The site’s authority is undoubtedly written and constructed by technical analysts rather than the President himself. This is more of implied reason instead of stated fact as no one named author is listed for the site. The federal government has defined authority over all United States citizens and as such the President’s authority and respect is implied through the site. In regards to its authority, Whitehouse.org clearly obtains the highest level.
In reviewing Whitehouse.org accuracy is highly debated by all United States political parties. Plenty of facts are presented yet without access to confidential information that accuracy can not be verified. It is certainly current and relevant concerning documentation and data. When evaluating comprehensiveness, the site provides a balanced and comprehensive view. Statistics and valuable metrics along with links to pertinent news articles are posted on the website validating the comprehensiveness of the data. The intended audience of the site is the United States adult citizen, therefore the audience must be interested in the information regardless of the expertise of the reader. Grammar, punctuation and structure is professionally constructed with a plethora of documentation and properly cited credible sources such as IRS statistics and government data. The documentation and information provided on the site is very credible with the only negative reviews coming from extreme fundamentalists with opposing views.
In reviewing objectivity, I have to conclude that Whitehouse.org has a distinct almost palpable bias. The presidential staff maintain the site and censor any and all information that is posted on the site. That alone has a tendency to neutralize objectivity since nearly all metrics point to the success of the Affordable Care Act. The site is reasonable though in that while only positive data is presented there are no extreme views or attempts to discredit opposing views with slanderous text. It most certainly poses a classic sociopolitical slant towards the president’s successes while carefully avoiding any negative issues such as missed deadlines and a faulty user portal for the Affordable Care Act enrollment. While the actual authors of the site are almost certainly staff of the White House, it is implied that President gives his approval for it.
In conclusion, Whitehouse.org presents a balanced yet biased view of the positive aspects of the Affordable Care Act. Well known and highly publicized failures such as the faulty user portal are conveniently omitted. It presents the data and facts in an implied authoritative manner while maintaining an atmosphere of accuracy with its supporting metrics. The site is by no means exhaustive yet provides enough criteria to merit its use for graduate research.
The second website I have chosen to review for its qualification of graduate research information is the Wikipedia page titled Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Wikipedia is the sixth most popular website in the world and considered to be one of the most popular internet reference sites. The English version of the site contains over 4 million individual articles. I chose to contrast this site to Whitehouse.org in regards to the Affordable Care Act.
The first criteria that any site should be evaluated for is the concept of authority. As mentioned earlier, Whitehouse.org has both direct and implied authority as the implication is that the President of the United States approved the information on the site. The authority of the Wikipedia is questionable as virtually anyone with suspect credentials can post as a subject matter expert. One does not have to be vetted to edit an article and as a result there are factual portions of the article written by laypeople. While sources are often cited, they are not required and could easily passed off as fact when in reality it is strictly unprofessional opinion. Since the Affordable Care Act is a highly polarizing topic that spans every political party, there is every reason to question the authority of the Wikipedia article.
The accuracy of Wikipedia is a bit more complex of a criteria to evaluate. It is current as regular edits are added to the page on a frequent basis. Wikipedia frequently includes the date of the most current edit or if an extended time has passed without an edit the site includes a warning about the questionable currency. The Affordable Care Act article on Wikipedia is comprehensive and includes a wide range of data and metrics, both positive and negative. Sources can be cited but are not required and are only self vetted. All articles include bibliographies however since they are not vetted either it is strongly suggested to review all bibliography entries for accuracy. While is considered to be a useful reference it is inferred to be questionable at times.
When evaluating Wikipedia’s Affordable Care Act article concerning objectivity I found that this is one criteria that Wikipedia shines. While it has a proclivity towards bias it stays more in the moderate area. Both opposing and approving views and ideas are written in the article. This unchecked balance of multiple authors actually blends quite unexpectedly into an objective article. Views of accolades are written in the same article with prominent failures. While there certainly is a palpable bias it is kept in an uneasy balance. The Affordable Care Act article on Wikipedia lists more than individual sources. This fact alone suggests an amount of complexity and variation in evaluating objectivity.
Wikipedia’s article is in sharp contrast to Whitehouse.org in many research criteria. I believe that while Wikipedia can be used for graduate research it should be used in moderation and only after other publication searches have been exhausted. The information contained within is suspect at times and would require additional research to properly independently authenticate sources. Comparing these two websites from a high level, I would use Whitehouse.org as a credible graduate level information source while Wikipedia would be ore suspect in terms of validity for graduate research.