26 October 2005

Learning from conservatives

Sometimes they have a lot to teach us. Listen once in a while, and we might learn something. For example, here's Wal-Mart on the evils of Medicaid-dependency:
The memo said Wal-Mart workers tended to overuse emergency rooms and underuse prescriptions and doctor visits, perhaps from previous experience with Medicaid.
They go on to point out that health savings accounts are mostly useful for screening out people likely to get sick (also known as skimming). While this is pretty obvious, most people wouldn't realize that just making jobs more physically active is an even more cost-effective way of achieving this!
The memo proposed incorporating physical activity in all jobs and promoting health savings accounts. Such accounts are financed with pretax dollars and allow workers to divert their contributions into retirement savings if they are not all spent on health care. Health experts say these accounts will be more attractive to younger, healthier workers.
Also, sometimes people say that efficiency and health gains from causing people to change behavior will outweigh the negative effects of screening. "Not so!" says Wal-Mart, and one has to assume that they know their shit.
"It will be far easier to attract and retain a healthier work force than it will be to change behavior in an existing one," the memo said. "These moves would also dissuade unhealthy people from coming to work at Wal-Mart."

On a somewhat unrelated, and much less sarcastic, note, they might have some good points about the origins of the minimum wage and about the role of White Southern business owners in ending Jim Crow. (But lest we confuse conservatives with people with actually admirable politics, let's take a moment to remember Rosa Parks.)

Update: The full Wal-Mart memo is also educational. And encouraging! In the "Public Relations" section, it concludes that

While [Wal-Mart] critics have not yet harnessed all of these facts, they are successfully exploiting those they do have, suggesting that, when discovered, the others will also become effective ammunition.

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