Friday, October 31, 2014

Medicating the Dead

Cosmetic company advertisements for hair care products have, in some instances, mystified me and I used at least one example in some of the psychology classes I've taught. What was it that caught my eye as particularly odd, unscientific or just plain contrary to common sense? How about "nourishing" your hair? The hair is dead, never to benefit from nourishment again once it breaks out of the scalp to adorn our wonderful pates. The portion of the hair which is living is found beneath the scalp and I seriously doubt it requires cosmetic nourishment.

So, what the companies are doing is telling us to apply products to cause hair's rather rough shafts to bend or lie flat to give that wonderful, silky look we cherish. Problem hair has been the bane of many a person's day or has thwarted their efforts to look well groomed. So, feed the hair and get on with your wonderful life. I'm sure it has sold a ton of product. But it never breathed life into those dead cells.

Advertising is meant to make products appealing and I fully understand their intent and how they go about utilizing those oh-so-well honed steps on Maslow's ladder of motivation. This despite the fact that Maslow has been found wanting in his theory, but we'll just leave that to the academics to consider at great length while the B-schools go on droning about his wonders and how to apply the theory to business. How well did the steps apply to Maslow himself? Not hard to find out once you read a biography of his life ("The Right to Be Human"). He had his personal challenges, too, but I don't believe he fully explored how he had molded his motivational theory to meld with his personal demons.

Today, once again, my mail directed me to an article that, if not shocking, was laughable and just more than a shade laughable than feeding dead hair. The article? How about Medicare continuing to pay for 348 expensive prescription medications for people who were already dead. The Medicare program, it seems, has a rule that they continue to pay for prescriptions for 32 days after someone's death. Does that make any sense to anyone? What would that 32-day supply be used for? Certainly it wouldn't help the intended beneficiary. And this discovery after a scouring of a small sample of Medicare cases was only scratching the surface. The true enormity of the problem has yet to be revealed, if ever. Oh, bills were not submitted by pharmacies in a timely manner? That might work.

The great minds at Medicare assume the medications were then diverted to simple street sales and converted into cash at all of our expense. Some or many someones were reaping the benefits of someone's death and not just from life insurance payments. Calling this particular fillip in the program incompetence doesn't come near enough to the words I would prefer to use here.

How do you write and review a program that permits prescription payments after a person is dead? Let's see how many reasons for this you can conjure up. I can't think of one except the fact that someone was asleep at the wheel when they were supposed to read these regulations for logic. But, of course, we do know that many bills pass through Congress without ever having been read by our legislators who then vote on them. Knowing this, the minions of whoever carefully construct paragraphs to meet their particular motivation. It's Maslow in action but which step was that on the ladder?

Long live the dead and long may they rule in this most chaotic of motivational universes.