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HIA receives presentation on ‘nudge theory’

The Health Insurance Authority (HIA) received a recent presentation from the ESRI behavioural research unit on ‘nudge theory’, this newspaper can report.

The presentation was mentioned in the May meeting of the HIA board, minutes of which have been seen by the Medical Independent (MI) following a Freedom of Information request.

However, a spokesperson for the HIA would not comment on whether it plans to incorporate nudge theory in any of its upcoming advertising campaigns.

“A presentation was made to the [HIA] board for their information. We are not commenting beyond that,” the spokesperson told MI.

The May minutes noted that the ESRI presentation would “focus on product complexity, switching and ‘nudge theory’”. The ESRI had prepared a note on these issues for the HIA Board, which was circulated at the May meeting.

Arising out of behavioural science, nudge is about changing the ‘choice architecture’ in people’s lives, thus altering the context in which decisions are made.

In 2015 this newspaper asked the Department of Health whether nudge theory had been used in the advertising campaign around the introduction of lifetime community rating (LCR). The HIA led the advertising campaign on LCR. However, at the time the Department did not comment.

In 2015 the national advisory committee on bioethics produced an opinion document entitled ‘Nudging in Public Health – An Ethical Framework’.

Meanwhile, MI recently reported that the HIA will be moving to a new headquarters in the Dublin 6 area. The move from the HIQA’s current headquarters at Canal House, Canal Road, Dublin 6 is expected to take place shortly.

Asked for an update, the HIA spokesperson said the move is “ongoing”.

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