More Incentive

Boy, have I been away for awhile.
I’ve been trying to come up with a “Grand return” to the blog but that’s hardly my style, so I’ll just jump right on in with a piece of news.

I was reading the Metro (for those of you outside the NYC area, the Metro is one of two free daily newspapers, generally handed out by a person outside key subway stations or placed in a free paper bin) this morning and it’s filled with Bloomberg initiatives, including the congestion pricing plan (which was finally endorsed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn).
The one which grabbed my attention the most, though, is a pilot program that caught on in South America in which our city’s poor would be “rewarded” for engaging in specific actions, receiving tax credits for their children getting good grades in school or going to the doctor.
Now, that whole Nanny State thing has really caught on in our city, with trans fat bans, attempted personal electronic bans, etc. I’m not quite sure what to think about this rewards program. Apparently, it’s been quite successful in South America, with rising doctor visits and improved health among country poor. Will this work here? I would presume that anyone who qualifies for this reward – at least the medical visit reward – qualifies for free or greatly reduced healthcare in the city and at what point does the incentive to go to a doctor finally come to the “not only will we pay for your healthcare but we’ll pay you to go”?
So here I sit on the fence about this initiative. Clearly, we do need programs to entice people to do well in school, get into good colleges, find successful careers, get regular health checkups…but this is so very equivalent of my parents’ attempts to get me to make straight As by offering me dollar amounts per letter grade. It didn’t work then and I can’t help but think it wouldn’t work now.

[image from Fotosearch]

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