I read this week that a Sunset Hill, Missouri children’s dentist office paid its young patients for their Halloween candy. Starting November 1, Pediatric Dentistry of Sunset Hills has been giving kids a dollar for every pound of candy they turn in. As of November 4th they had collected 13-hundred pounds of sweets. Their plan is to send the candy to troops overseas. Sounds like a way of shifting dental insurance costs from Aetna and Blue Cross to Tricare!
Anyway, this got me thinking; maybe we should try this strategy with other scourges of the healthcare world, for instance:
- Pulmonologists could pay patients to bring in their cigarettes and we could turn around and send those cigarettes to the troops who are fighting against us in Afghanistan. Might not be a quick means to the end of the war, but it will work eventually!
- Endocrinologists could pay patients to turn in donuts and we could turn around and send those donuts to the deserving police officers that really need them.
- Hepatologists could reimburse patients who bring in bottles of Jack Daniels and we could turn around and ship those to Charlie Sheen.
- Psychiatrists could purchase marijuana from teenage users and we can deliver it to Tim Lincecum in the SF Giants dugout.
Funny, isn’t it, that people won’t do the right thing on their own but can be paid to do it. I wrote about this once before in a post called Money Don’t Get Everything It’s True, but it hit me again when I saw the dentist article: this pay-for-play orientation starts in childhood (“clean your room and I’ll give you your allowance!). First pay for candy, later pay for weight loss and compliance with an asthma medication regimen. People may grow up, but their motivations stay the same.
So physicians and health plans, start your checkbooks! You can’t buy love but apparently you can buy better health for your patients.