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.
Superstore — Is Insurance a Pyramid Scheme?
Mateo comes down with an ear infection and Jonah comes up with an idea to create a store insurance policy. Originally, the store raised money for medical bills by putting a donation jar out for customers to donate spare change. When Jonah realizes that takes a lot of work, he proposes creating a pool of funds from the employees and have them contribute monthly to cover someone’s bills. Unfortunately, he’s created a semi-pyramid scheme that requires individuals to donate money to help one individual.
Superstore — The Cost of Healthcare
After a coworker comes down with an ear infection, the team members decide to try and raise money to help cover the costs of medicine. Jonah decides to come up with a group health plan where each member donates money from their check and then covers the medical costs of store members whenever the become sick. Amy sarcastically points out that this is basically what health insurance is meant to do.
Friends — The One Where Joey Loses his Health Insurance
Joey loses his health insurance from SAG because he hasn’t been working enough jobs. He laments to Chandler that he now has to be more careful until he gets enough interviews to qualify again. The next day Joey gets a hernia, but won’t go to the hospital because he can’t afford. He tries to do a few different auditions with the hernia, but none of them really work in his favor.
The Simpsons — King-Size Homer
In this episode, at work Homer is required to participate in an exercise class. He learns that if he is considered disabled that he will not have to participate in the class. He looks up ways to be considered disabled and finds that being over 300 lbs. makes him disabled. He’s now incentivized to become obese and not have to participate in the class when most people try to avoid becoming overweight.
Thanks to Brooke Bauman for the clip!
Spongebob Squarpants — Obesity
It takes Squidward some time to try a Krabby Patty, but once he does he finds out that he loves them. He gets so addicted that he eventually locks himself away and starts overeating. He can’t control himself, and once Spongebob comes knocking, it’s too late. The Krabby Patties have gone to Squidward’s thighs and then he blows up.
Thanks to Savannah Barry for the clip recommendation!
The Onion — Social Security Reform Bill (NSFW)
The Onion takes a satirical look at social security reform by proposing that Americans become riskier and try to die earlier so that there’s more money left in the system for those that survive. They also recommend increasing taxes on items that could save people.
Always Sunny — Smoking in the Mailroom
Charlie decides to start smoking in the mailroom because it’s a stressful job and the cigarettes help him calm down. He rationalizes it that it’s okay to do something so risky because he has health insurance. In economic terms, health insurance creates a moral hazard because Charlie is only smoking because he knows he has insurance and he wouldn’t be as risky without it.
Fried Green Tomatoes — I Have More Insurance
Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates) is waiting on a parking spot, but a car jumps in front of her. Her parking lot rage gets a bit heater and she decides to drive into the parked car since she assumes she has more insurance than they do. If she didn’t have that insurance, she probably wouldn’t have been so reckless.