We have announced our second Call for Proposals in the field of behavioral economics. We’re actively seeking ideas that will help us to better understand how to discourage the consumption of low-value health services — those that provide more harm than benefit or which provide only marginal health benefits. In addition to improving health outcomes, this knowledge could contribute to lowering health care costs for us all.
Behavioral economics is an area of study by which I’ve personally grown increasingly intrigued and in which the Foundation has recently begun to invest. We all know, for example, that we need to exercise, eat right and be actively engaged in our own health care. But we don’t always do what we know we should do; knowing the “right” decision to make does not guarantee that we make that decision. The goal of behavioral economics is to uncover insights that could enable people to make better — more “rational” — choices for their health.
It’s not a given that the behavioral economic-driven solutions that have been shown to, for example, increase 401k savings will prove to be true when applied to the challenges of health and health care. But it’s a risk we want to take because we sincerely believe — if it does — that it could lead to the profound social impact that the Pioneer Portfolio, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a whole, is seeking.