• Steven Heller

Sick of the Health Care Debate?


Yesterday The New York Times reported a poll that citizens are becoming extremely nervous about how health care reform will impact their economies. I was invited to take part in the “Room for Debate” feature on this question: What does President Obama need to do to sell health care reform to the voters? Read here for other commentators (and the comments from readers too). This is an excerpt from my response:

“After two years of ignoring monthly letters and fliers from my insurance company urging me to enroll in their discount drug plan, it took a persuasive telephone solicitation to force me into accepting the help. No amount of graphic and typographic persuasion had succeeded. But this guy on the phone, who sounded so genuinely incredulous when I said, ‘No thanks, I don’t mind paying the extra money,’ had the good sense and convincing cadence to say ‘but we’re talking about $60 off.’ He was so intent on pursuing me I could no longer say no. So I acquiesced. . .

“One day a package came in the mail with four months of fairly expensive eye medicine and an invoice, as promised, showing a substantial discount. Since I am as susceptible to Pavlovian stimulation as the next guy, such a positive experience was enough to sign me up for life. But it also made me even more aware that these drug companies are making a huge profit off usurious mark-ups. . . “So here’s the recipe for a viable health care promotion campaign: Whatever the words and image, be sure to make a convincing promise and prove it can be kept. Then hire really convincing phone solicitors, not jerks reading from a prompter; next, follow-through with the goods. If enough people get what they need, they’ll want health care reform — and they won’t mind the phone calls either.”

How would you sell health care (or not) given your design acumen?

About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →