...don't even ignore 'em.
-- Samuel Goldwyn

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I hate health advertising.


Too strong? I don't think so. Right now, here in glorious Puget Sound Country, political hucksters are polluting the discourse with shock-awe TV spots for and against ballot initiatives that would cap medical malpractice awards, or not. I have nothing against dueling initiatives. I have a genuine dislike for the application of hyper-propaganda ad techniques to issue advocacy.

The anti-cap people found a couple of extreme malpractice victims--a woman who lost her baby due to a cluster of doctor screwups, and a man who had his "throat set on fire" during anaesthesia in the operating room. The TV spot the latter soul is featured on is characterized by his stony countenance, the face of a man who's clearly suffered terribly, and his harsh whisper, between raspy inhalations, since he must breathe through an opening in his throat.

The audio on the man's TV spot is purposefully enhanced to project his breathing directly into the pit of your stomach. Of course it is. Can you imagine advertising people saying, No, don't compress the highs, this guy's story is awful enough? Both of these people got to participate in this horror show, and were probably delighted to get to project their rightful anger. But I wonder how they feel now that they can see themselves every ten minutes on every available channel. I can't believe they wouldn't want to stay in the house until the election's over. Last month you were just human beings trying to get over your hurt. Today you're icons. How does that feel?

Meanwhile, the pro-cap people have misrepresented their initiative as providing plenty of compensation for injuries and lost wages, when their cap is actually firm at $350,000. And, they've responded to the anti-cappers by identifying that campaign's sponsors as mostly...lawyers, of course. Never mind that the pro-cap people are funded by docs and insurance companies.

We do have a couple of good newspapers and one or two good TV stations around here who are getting the facts out about the initiatives--principally the Seattle Times and KING-TV. KING's reporter concluded from his research that there is no solid evidence that damage awards caps make any difference in either the cost of doctors' malpractice insurance or the cost of health care. I'm conflicted--I have medical people in my family who tell stories about doctors leaving communities, and yet I don't think litigation is the major cause of skyrocketing health care costs. And, as a citizen, and a communications professional, the mean-spirited TV ad methods make me cast pox at all parties.

How much do you suppose the docs, the lawyers, and the insurance companies are spending to misinform and anger us? How about spending that money on reducing medical mistakes, instead of sending those bucks to the TV stations' bottom line?

Sorry, no time left to make links. Don't get it? Google it.

1 comment:

Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system as we are in a major crisis and health insurance is a major aspect to many.