I wish I had a million dollars that I could use to convince my patients to stop smoking.
I wish I had a million dollars to get my patients to take their medicines.
I wish I had a million dollars to get people to shape up and lose weight.
I wish I had a million dollars to make sure people just listened to me so they would always wear their seatbelts and never use their cell phones while driving.
Heck, I just wish I had a million dollars myself.
But I don’t.
That’s because I’m a doctor: I don’t offer people a million dollars to take my advice. I especially don’t dangle the prospect of them earning that money if they follow my “non-medical” advice as I pose as one who gives medical “information” either. Nor do I pretend to think that I will change peoples’ behavior with money.
But there are those who believe in the Keynesian economics of health care delivery where, if we just throw a bunch of money at these problems, they’re all going to go away; that they’re going to make a difference in millions of peoples’ lives as they watch TV. Unfortunately, this theory of economics hasn’t worked out so well for our economy and I really don’t see why we should think this type of thinking should work so well for health care. Can we really change behavior of weight gain without changing the psychology and sociology of the home?
But there will always be ideologues in the world of marketing who believe in the power of Keynesian economics. After all, the money’s not theirs; marketers get their dollars from advertisers. That way, like Oprah, they can offer a million dollars to promote, entice, market, and maybe even deceive – especially when they only give their million to a person the marketer chooses as their “winner” because they’ve followed their self-imposed health rules that follow a pre-ordained rubric.
Marketers have use this approach for years with things like The Price is Right, Jeopardy, and (my favorite) The Wheel of Fortune! We absolutely love this stuff. Like bugs to a light, we are drawn to the easy money that isn’t.
But when it comes to health care, I just hope we really think about what we’re getting for someone else’s million.