Monday, December 14, 2009

Virtual Bribes

Sweet sweet bribes. If you play any of the cutesy Facebook games, you've inevitably been tempted to take the shortcut to the top: fill out a little survey from sponsors or sign up for an online service and earn some quick virtual cash. These fake bucks buy virtual items in games like Mafia Wars and Farmville.

I know firsthand that these games are ridiculously addictive, and some players (not me though!) agree to exchange a little time and privacy for an in-game bonus.

But beware. Health insurance industry trade groups are gaming the system. Take one of their surveys and, upon completion, they automatically email your Congressional Representative:
"I am concerned a new government plan could cause me to lose the employer coverage I have today. More government bureaucracy will only create more problems, not solve the ones we have."
How many people heedlessly filled out these surveys not understanding the consequences or the issues at stake? We don't know. However, a director for the Blue Cross-Blue Shield group said the coalition of insurers has generated nearly 2 million e-mails and letters to Congress since early summer.

Another factoid I'd like to know is how many Representatives are using these letters as evidence of actual opposition to healthcare reform.

The number of people playing Farmville is phenomenal: over 26 million daily users and in excess of 69 million monthly users. And to the insurance industry, that must look like an endless supply of suckers.

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