28 de febrer 2014

Our irrational behaviour

The Behavioral Economics of Health and Health Care
Irrationality in Health Care: What Behavioral Economics Reveals About What We Do and Why

Thomas Rice provides an overview of behavioral economics in health in a recent article in Annual review of public health. More or less the same things we already know with some concrete messages. A good starting point for those that want to take first steps in this discipline. The summary:
People often make decisions in health care that are not in their best interest, ranging from failing to enroll in health insurance to which they are entitled, to engaging in extremely harmful behaviors. Traditional economic theory provides a limited tool kit for improving behavior because it assumes that people make decisions in a rational way, have the mental capacity to deal with huge amounts of information and choice, and have tastes endemic to them and not open to manipulation. Melding economics with psychology, behavioral economics acknowledges that people often do not act rationally in the economic sense. It therefore offers a potentially richer set of tools than provided by traditional economic theory to understand and influence behaviors
Right now behavioral economics is still a promise, let's wait until we can really apply it widely.
Thomas Rice says in this respect:
 With the exception of Kahneman & Tversky’s prospect theory, which was developed more than 30 years ago, there has been little in the way of bringing the various tools and policies of behavioral economics under one umbrella. As a result, most of the applications seem to be ad hoc. More development of an overarching theory could aid those interested in designing new interventions when it is clear that traditional economics remedies are insufficient
Regarding the book on Irrationality in Health Care, I haven't had the opportunity to have a look at it. I leave here the reference and 23 anomalies . Maybe in the book there is the answer to solve them.

PS. For those interested in an introductory course, on March 11th starts at Coursera:  A Beginner's Guide to Irrational Behavior