Motivation comes in several forms and the two most common forms are punishment (stick) or reward (carrot). This analogy comes from the timeless debate about the best way to get a stubborn donkey to move. You can beat it from behind with a stick or dangle a carrot from a string in front of its nose. Obviously the more humane, and preferred method, is the carrot.
Incentive should always be the motivator of choice because incentive results in personal gain and in the donkey’s case the incentive of the carrot is a tasty treat. When the incentive is right a punishment, or stick, isn’t needed.
If you read this blog with any regularity at all you know I spend a lot of time reading about, learning about and talking about health care reform, specifically The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare.
One of the goals of the ACA was to provide coverage to all Americans but the Supreme Court shot that down when they ruled that the individual mandate (requirement of all Americans to obtain health coverage) was unconstitutional but could be enforced as a tax. A person could choose not to have coverage but doing so would result in a penalty at tax time. The penalty is a stick.
Fundamentally this is where we’re missing the mark with health care reform. Health care reform should be designed to help people and if it did – a stick wouldn’t be needed to convince people to participate. We will know true reform has been achieved when the carrot replaces the stick!
The biggest carrot dangling is our own personal health and the incentive should be access to affordable, quality care to maintain and improve our health.