Be a health care hero: set yourself up for success

Be a health care hero: set yourself up for success

Another example of a bias identified by behavioral economists is that individuals are more likely to stick with the default option, even if better alternatives are available.

For example, in New Jersey drivers were automatically granted a limited ability to sue for being in an automobile accident, and were given the opportunity to purchase additional coverage which would do more to cover the cost of a lawsuit. Given these circumstances only 20% of drivers opted for the additional coverage. However, when the default option was reversed in Pennsylvania, such that drivers were automatically given extra legal coverage, 75% of consumers kept the extra coverage, and paid the extra cost every month1.

Were this choice made on rational grounds, we might expect the number of drivers to get the more expensive coverage to be similar regardless of what the default option was. Another example of the same principle is that individuals save more for retirement when the default option is to withhold more from their checks, even though they can freely change the amount withheld at any time2.

Understanding that individuals are prone to stick with the status quo has led many to wonder how these so called biases could be used to promote health rather than illness.

For example, set yourself up for success.  Make responsible health care utilization your status quo. Commit to getting a check up every year and keeping track of your appointments, to taking your medications as prescribed, to making lists of questions, to following up if a treatment plan becomes problematic or requires changes, to being someone who cares about health and health care sustainability.


Be a health care hero!

  1. Johnson EJ, Hershey J, Meszaros J, Kunreuther H. Framing, probability distortions, and insurance decisions.  J Risk Uncertainty. 1993;735-53.
  2. Madrian BC, Shea DF. The power of suggestion: inertia in 401(k) participation and savings behavior.  Q J Econ. 2001;116(4):1149-1187.
  3. Monane  M, Bohn  RL, Gurwitz  JH, Glynn  RJ, Levin  R, Avorn  J. The effects of initial drug choice and comorbidity on antihypertensive therapy compliance: results from a population-based study in the elderly. Am J Hypertens 1997;10697- 704.
  4. Bosworth, Hayden B. .Medication Adherence: Making the Case for Increased Awareness. Duke University Medical Center; National Consumers League.
  5. Cheng JW, Kalis MM, Feifer S. Patient-reported adherence to guidelines of the Sixth Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Pharmacotherapy. 2001;21:828–841.



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