“Passive” healthcare may deliver more results than incentives and action-oriented options


How should the innovator think about incentives and market forces with regard to behavioral change? Employer-based wellness programs continue to proliferate and incentives flow to get people moving and eating right. Even Congress is proposing to reward people (through tax breaks) for joining gyms and and allowing money in health savings accounts to be used for buying exercise equipment. The intersection of wellness, health benefits, and clinical care is an area of hot investment and perennial entrepreneurial efforts. But does any of this work? Austin Frakt and Gilbert Benavidez argue that we favor action-oriented programs, but there is no evidence that they deliver on their promise. The incentives just support people who are already action-oriented and have the means and the personalities to reap the benefits. In order to help the greater population, they propose, we should provide “passive” programs that automatically enroll people, and reduce the complexity of over-abundant choice, mimicking 401k programs. I love the contrarian nature of the proposal. More tangible examples would help make a stronger case. But health entrepreneurs should consider the implications. There is more here to read and study.


Read NYTimes: Why a ‘Passive’ Health Approach Can Produce the Most Action

Read Forbes: The Ways & Means Committee Would Borrow $100 Billion To Expand HSAs And Subsidize Gym Memberships

Read: The Dubious Empirical and Legal Foundations of Wellness Programs

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