Nudging to Optimality: Prescriptions for Treating America's Health Care Problem

Open Access
Wells, Jeremy Nicholas
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Brian Spangler Davis, Thesis Supervisor
  • Brian Spangler Davis, Honors Advisor
  • James Miles, Faculty Reader
  • Health Care
  • United States
  • Incentives
  • Nudges
  • Public Policy
  • Health Insurance
  • Doctors
  • Patients
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
In this study, the United States health care system is analyzed to determine why things have been in such a bad state. Health outcomes are not improving as much as expected, and costs have risen from 5.0% of US GDP in 1960 up to 17.9% of US GDP in 2016. Initially, improving price transparency for consumers is considered, but it is determined that this is a necessary, but not sufficient change to the US health care system. From here, the incentives of the players in the health care system are considered, as well as what “nudges” could be made to reach a more optimal outcome, defined as decreasing health care costs, improving patient health outcomes, or increasing access to treatment for the general population. In conclusion, paperwork between doctors and insurers must be reduced, patients and doctors must work together to reduce the vast amount of unnecessary testing that occurs, and patients must be provided with easier to understand information to allow for better insurance plan selection.