Adam Ruins Funerals

When a loved one dies, and we are in a state of grief, we often aren’t making the most informed decisions. Funeral homes know this and use this fact to charge higher prices. They can do so because our price elasticity of demand for end life services is high. There are few reasons for this. First, there is not enough time to “shop around” for better pricing on the goods and services provided as a funeral is often expected to take place quickly after a person’s death. Second, there is high asymmetric information about exactly what is actually necessity and what is more a luxury (the clip pokes fun of this with the casket featuring WiFi). Last, there are no close substitutes for end of life services – you only have two options: burial or cremation. For these reasons, we are less sensitive to price when shopping for end of life services for our loved ones and will pay a higher prices consequently.’

Thanks to Erin Yetter for the submission and description! Follow her on Twitter!

Adam Ruins Everything is a half-hour informational comedy were host, Adam Conover, debunks popular myths. Each episode is divided into 3 segments with some common theme. In the Spring of 2018, James Tierney and I sat down to go through all three seasons of Adam Ruins Everything to pick out examples in each episode that could be used in an economics course. If you’re curious about the paper, you can read about it here.

Brooklyn 99 — Healthcare Costs

 

Terry is debating with himself on whether to get a vasectomy after the birth of his two little girls. He goes in for the procedure, but while under anesthesia he confesses to Jake that he is conflicted. Terry doesn’t believe Jake, but Jake has tried to make it a point that he’s Terry’s friend and is looking out for him. Terry asks him to focus on his own body and points out that Jake’s poor diet is the reason why healthcare is so expensive for everyone else. At the end of the episode, Terry gifts Jake a box of carrots, but Jake doesn’t really appreciate it.

The Daily Show — Moral Hazard

 

Moral hazard occurs when a party that is protected from risk behaves differently from the way it would behave if it were fully exposed to the risk. Here, the last line is a perfect example of moral hazard, when Aasif Mandvi says, “Hey man! You can get drunk and have a great time and it doesn’t matter ‘cuz you’ve got health insurance!” Now students can fall off of keg stands and get hurt but that’s ok, they have health insurance now!

Thanks to James Tierney for the clip and the description!

The Simpsons — Sirloin-A-Lot Challenge

This clips includes a few different economics concepts rolled in to one. The overarching theme is that of consumer choice where Homer appears to experience diminishing returns while trying to eat a 16 pound steak. He’s competing against a previous eating contest winner, who dies at the end from eating too much steak.

In the middle of the clip, Marge asks Dr. Hibbert if that much steak is healthy and Dr. Hibbert exhibits a bit of the principle-agent problem where his interests now align with eating competitions because he owns a portion of the restaurant. The good doctor tells her not to worry because they have a new heimlich machine, which decreases their need to focus on choking hazards.

Always Sunny — Mac and Charlie Get a Job

 

After Dee has a heart attack and finds out she doesn’t have health insurance, Mac and Charlie go on a quest to get a job that includes healthcare benefits. They decide to apply to a job together, but since they only care about the healthcare part of the job, they end up accepting a minimum wage job.

Always Sunny — The Cost of Health Care

 

After Dee has a heart attack, she heads to the hospital only to find out that she doesn’t have insurance because her dad canceled the policy when they were younger. Mac and Charlie are confused that people have to pay to stay in a hospital because they think of it like a public good similar to police and fire protection, which is nonexcludable.

Frank shows up to get a full body health scan because he’s been having a bit too much fun. This line alone is a great clip for teaching moral hazard when it comes to healthcare.

Always Sunny — Healthcare & Socialism

Charlie and Mac discuss how crazy it is that Americans need to pay for healthcare and would only expect that from a communist dictator. Their confusion comes about because their friend, Dee, has a heart attack and then they realize that the could be injured at any moment.

Budlight Hitchhiker Commercial

When one party has more information about themselves than the other party, economists describe this situation as asymmetric information. We know a lot about our “true” selves, but we can use signals to send to other parties to either conceal our true selves or hide a characteristic we don’t want to reveal. In this clever Budweiser ad, the hitchhiker is trying to conceal his real intentions by carrying a case of Bud Light.

Superstore — Life of an Insurance Plan

When Mateo gets sick, Jonah comes up with an insurance fund to help cover employee medical bills because the store does not offer health insurance. The team members join the plan because it only costs $20 each month, but Jonah has promised to pay previous medical bills. Jonah and Amy quickly find out each team member, especially Sandra, has a lot of pre-existing conditions and they realize that they can’t cover everyone’s costs at one time. The two try to break the two groups apart, but the members in the pre-existing condition group will have to pay significantly more to cover all their costs.

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