Nearly 50 percent of Americans have been at least partially vaccinated as of this week, a major milestone that, not long ago, felt out of reach. But with some states still far behind a majority-vaccinated population, many have turned to a reliably alluring proposition: financial incentives.
So what is it about incentives that encourage people to get vaccinated — and does any type of reward work? Dr. David Asch, executive director of the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, is well-versed in the world of incentives. Asch is an expert in a field known as “behavioral economics,” the study of — among other things — how various psychological, cultural and social factors impact decision-making.
Asch points out that, despite how novel the vaccine lotteries and prizes seem, incentives in the healthcare world are nothing new. “Look at your health insurance plan,” Asch tells Yahoo Life. “It’s all these co-payments and deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums and in and out-of-network things, every single one of those is a financial incentive directed at you, the health insurance plan member to get you to direct your healthcare in a certain way.”