Thrivers Wanted

by on October 6, 2009 at 1:29 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

The Healthcare Economist points us to this description of Kaiser Permanente's advertising campaign:

Kaiser said its 2008 Thrive campaign will move into new areas, including… “a robust outdoor campaign throughout Northern and Southern California,” ads that dominate gyms like 24 Hour Fitness (on walls, mirrors, water bottles and yoga mats, for example), a major presence in Vallejo’s Six Flags Discovery Kingdom amusement park, the Olympic ads, election-specific commercials and print ads in venues like Time, Newsweek, Sunset and Cooking Light, said Lisa Ryan, Kaiser’s director of national advertising.

Hmmm…Any guesses as why they are advertising at gyms, the Olympics and in Cooking Light?

1 dataman85 October 6, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Snatch all the healthy people for their insurance plans.

Though not sure about the logic for advertising in Six Flags

2 Jason Kerwin October 6, 2009 at 1:47 pm

I wondered this myself since I used to be a Kaiser member. I like the adverse selection story a lot but I think something else must be going on. The “Thrive” campaign also involves ads inside of their facilities and in the members-only section of Kaiser’s website, as well as stuff I got in the mail. Maybe it’s just more economical to use a single ad campaign for everything, but I suspect they’re also hoping to encourage their current customers to exercise.

3 Bill October 6, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Sort of like the Medicare supplement insurance program I saw advertised on TV under the theme: In the 1960’s you were active, and you still are today.

4 Chi October 6, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Spoken like someone who’s never been to a gym herself, BL.

5 BL October 6, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Come back and ask me about my training when you’re able to squat, bench or deadlift even half the weight I can. I’ll probably die of old age first.

6 mulp October 6, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Clearly the ad strategy illustrates the problems with US health care.

If US health care were truly innovative, the firms with the innovations would be seeking out people who they can treat much more efficiently than their competitors.

Clearly, a simple survey of heath care around the world illustrates that in a real competitive market, huge profits would be had by charging 25% less than the average cost per person, a profit of something like 25-50%, merely by being as efficient as France, Canada, Japan,…

7 Andrew October 6, 2009 at 8:44 pm

It seems like the same people that would fine people for “bad” habits would think insurance companies evil for not favoring them.

Wow, and I didn’t even mention “liberals!”

8 John Skookum October 7, 2009 at 3:48 am

“Hmmm…Any guesses as why they are advertising at gyms, the Olympics and in Cooking Light?”

Beats me. Are they targeting homosexuals?

9 JSK October 7, 2009 at 9:32 am

@John Dewey:
Luxemburg and Norway are significantly more affluent than the U.S. yet spend maybe 60% of what Americans spend on health care. Given that health care prices are probably lower in the U.S. than in these European countries, Americans consume approximately double the quantity of health care than equally affluent Europeans. So the “U.S. excessive health care spending is a luxury problem”-plane does not fly.

10 John Dewey October 7, 2009 at 10:48 am

JSK: “So the “U.S. excessive health care spending is a luxury problem”

I think you’re missing my point. IMO, U.S. health care spending is neither “excessive” nor a “problem”. It’s an advantage the U.S. enjoys over other large nations as a result of its superior income. In short, we take care of our sick and injured better: with better results for diseases such as cancer; with fewer queues; with longer extensions of life after illness of the elderly (our choice!); with more freedom to choose our health care methods and providers. In addition, we spend significantly more on elective services such as orthodontia and cosmetic surgery.

There’s a reason, JSK, that the wealthy from all over the world come to the U.S. – and not to Luxembourg or Norway – when they require treatment for severely threatening disease or injury. The very expensive treatments provided a few foreign patients – such as the spearation of the Egyptian twins conjoined at the head – finds its way into our health care spending per capita figures. So does all our medical research and development costs. So does, in fact, the few billion dollars in medical services and goods which are regularly donated to other nations in times of crisis, but which are not subtracted from our health care and goods industry GDP.

One part of U.S. medical spending is excessive: the defensive medicine practices forced on our hospitals and physicians by the lawyers in this country. Some have estimated this amounts to as much as 10 percent of total hospital and physician costs. The solution to that problem is very simple: adopt the European practice of loser pays in malpractice and other civil lawsuits. But the Democratic Party receives too much in donations from American trial lawyers for that solution to be implemented any time soon.

11 JSK October 7, 2009 at 11:12 pm

@John: Im taking about a per capita basis of course. And to say that nations of “only” several million people arent real countries is ludicrous. Come on, don’t use pretend ignorance as an argument.

Tiny Luxembourg faces none of the challenges – crime, immigration, vehicle traffic, occupation hazards, international trade of goods – which large nations face in holding down health care expenditures.

As an example. Would you claim that as a country grows beyond a certain size the amount of occupational hazards and vehicle traffic PER CAPITA necessarily increases? Of course Luxembourg doesnt have the crime and immigration levels of the U.S. but that was exactly my point: Americans arent spending double on health care because they are so affluent.

It’s an advantage the U.S. enjoys over other large nations as a result of its superior income.

And i’m saying that U.S. health care spending is an outlier, even in the groups of nations with “superior” income. Moreover, the U.S. is richer but only 10 a 15 percent more so compared to Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Sweden and Denmark. Yet per capita (I put in bold for people like yourself Dewey) is about half to a 2/3 of American health care spending. I know about the concept of a luxury good, but these are theoretically extreme income effects. And as I mentioned above: why are they absent amongst affluent Europeans?

The very expensive treatments provided a few foreign patients(…)but which are not subtracted from our health care and goods industry GDP.

Not the worst argument I ever heard, but i doubt that “health care exports” make up the difference. For this to be true, the U.S. would need to export about 5% of its GDP as “health care services” to the Rest of the World. I doubt that even the flow of factor income from abroad would amount to 5% of U.S. GDP, let alone just the health care part of it.

Again, your way of debating/discussing annoys me. You claim that the U.S. is uncomparable (exceptional even) because no other country matches its income, size and/or population. Well duh. But according to your “logic” I cant make comparisons between any pair of countries what so ever.

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