The Astroturf is Greener on the Other Side

Health insurance companies are taking the battle for health care reform to Facebook. They are doing it through a process called astroturfing by offering Facebook users virtual currency that they can use to make purchases in games such as Farmville or Mafiawars.

Users are asked to fill out a survey which is sent to that person’s congressional representative with the following message, “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.” Some may call it a free market exchange, but I like to think of it as virtual bribery.

It’s funny that health insurance companies feel government bureaucracy creates more problems when the free market isn’t exactly free of its own problems. Issues of moral hazard, risk selection, asymmetry of information and adverse selection come to mind. We can now add bribery, I mean astroturfing, to this list. Who needs health care when your online plantation is phenomenal?

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