Assorted links

1. A cell phone targeted at elderly customers includes a dial tone that mimics a cordless landline. The sound is meant to tip off elderly users that the phone is working. (Hat tip: Justin Holz)

2. Debating the healthcare coverage mandate in the Washington Post. What does behavioral economics have to say?

3. Does showing pictures of a healthy salad give people an excuse to pick the fries? (Hat tip: Richard Kenworthy)

4. Safeway has instituted a health insurance premium surcharge for obesity. Or a premium discount for healthy living, depending on your frame.

Safeway CEO Steve Burd tells NPR that employees receive a discount on their health insurance if their body mass index is below 30 (a higher number is considered obese). “If it’s above 30, that means they pay about $318 more than someone who is in the other camp,” says Burd. “But the beauty of our plan is that if you make a reduction of, let’s say 10% of your body mass index, we write you a check at the end of the year for making that progress.”

(Hat tip: Christopher Daggett)

5. Street signs that tell you how many people have died on the road in the last year. Too scary? Is an absolute number useful? Would some kind of deaths per 10,000 drivers figure be better? (Hat tip: Simon Davies)

6. “Nudging recycling” is catching on, says the New York Times. (Hat tip: Suzanne Danforth)

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4 Responses to “Assorted links”

  1. Jason Bade Says:

    With regard to nudging recycling, how about branding “garbage” cans differently? As “garbage” implies all types of refuse (bottles and cans included), maybe we should label our cans “Non-recyclables only” with the “recyclables” can right next to it.

  2. Jack Jesmer Says:

    With regards to the ‘fat nudge’, it would appear that the employer tactic of taxing body fat is perhaps more of a shove than a nudge. Thaler and Sunstein indicate that a nudge must not ‘significantly change economic incentives…and must be cheap and easy to avoid’. The employer is doing both. My guess is that this action is more of an attempt at nudging less employer money towards benefits than any benevolent health related nudge.

    Perhaps we should also tax intelect, or lack there of…

  3. Miles Says:

    BMI — wow, that is *incredibly* stupid. BMI was designed to look at populations as a whole, and is not useful in the slightest when evaluating an individual. For instance, as a 6’1 205lb, with a 34 inch waist, noone would pick me out of a line up for being overweight, yet, I’m nearly obese according to BMI. BMI indicates I’d be better off sitting on the couch letting muscle change to (lighter) fat than my current exercise regimen.

  4. holmegm Says:

    The dialtone thing could actually be useful … do I have a signal? Is the phone going to start dialing when I have pressed enough numbers, or do I still have to press Send (some phones I have used in the past could be in either mode at any given time, depending on whether I had already pressed Send)?

    The dialtone could be a useful shorthand signal.

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