Free Money -- For Idiots
So I’m reading on page one of the New York Times that a lot of Americans aren’t taking their meds as prescribed. They’re forgetting. And “such lapses,” the Times informs us, “fuel more than $100 billion dollars in health care costs annually because those patients often get sicker.”
Seems like one-third to one-half of all patients don’t take their medication as prescribed and as many as 25 percent don’t even get their prescriptions filled. That’s a lot of forgetting.
What to do? How about paying these forgetful people cash money to remember to take their medicine? That’s right – pay them cash if they do not do what they’re supposed to do. According to the Times, “In a Philadelphia program people prescribed warfarin, an anti-blood-clot medication, can win $10 or $100 each day they take the drug – a kind of lottery using a computerized pillbox to record if they took the medicine and whether they won that day.”
“I would forget to take it,” one patient said. “But in the six-month lottery program,” the Times reports, she [the patient] pocketed about $300.” When she started getting paid, she started to remember to take her meds.
In case you’re wondering, responsible patients – the ones who followed doctors orders and took their medicine -- got paid exactly nothing. No need to pay them. They did what they were supposed to. The only ones who got rewarded were the dummies.
But remember, it works; it saves money in the long run. So why stop with medical patients. Let’s pay kids who “forget” to go to school but remember to hang out on the street corner all day. They cost society a lot in the long run, too. Some of them become criminals, with all the attendant costs to taxpayers. Some go on welfare, which cost the rest of us dearly. So let’s pay them cash to go to school. Think of how much we’ll be saving. And of course there’s no need to pay the kids who actually go to class. We wouldn’t want to reward good behavior, now would we?
And let’s also pay criminals. Let’s say some guy who breaks into houses and cars can steal $1000 worth of stuff a month. When he fences the goods he may get less than $100. So let’s all chip in – via taxes – and pay him, oh, say $125 a month to stop stealing. That’ll save us lots of money in the long run. Law-abiding citizens, of course, while they get to pay the criminal, get no payment themselves. That would be a waste of tax-payers' money.
We could also pay people who bought houses they couldn't afford -- to keep them from defaulting on their loans and going into foreclosure. No one wants foreclosure, right? It’s the kind of thing that can ruin a neighborhood.
We might even go back to our old welfare system where we paid women more and more money for having more and more babies. Each time they had a new kid, their welfare check would go up. Hey, a little up front money might prevent them from having three or four or six or ten kids. Imagine how much money we’d save if we paid women on welfare more and more money for having fewer and fewer kids.
I like this idea -- a lot. It teaches us a couple of important lessons about American values. First, if you’re stupid and irresponsible, you can get free money. And second, if you do the right thing, you get to pay for all the idiots who don’t.