Is the price right? Play ‘Dr. Plinko’
Most patients and physicians have no idea what drugs and medical products cost, except that they are too darn expensive.
Dr. Adam Berkwitt of the Yale School of Medicine has come up with an entertaining way to change that. This month, at a New Haven, Conn., arts festival, the pediatric hospitalist debuted a game show modeled on “The Price is Right,” in which contestants guess the prices of common over-the-counter medical products.
The game’s educational twist, according to Yale News, is that the contestants separately guess the price for the same item at a store such as Wal-Mart and at the hospital. As in “The Price is Right,” if they answer correctly they earn chips they will drop on a 13-foot “Plinko” pegboard. That’s why the game is named “Dr. Plinko.” At the end, they find out their monthly medical bill, based on their insurance and health status.
Berkwitt grew up “obsessed” with TV game shows, he told the Yale student newspaper. As a doctor, he’s fascinated and baffled by healthcare costs. Even with the growing emphasis on transparency and consumerism, “it’s difficult to understand where these prices come from,” he said. “Who profits? The ‘Dr. Plinko’ game is a fun way to talk about the absurdity of these costs.”
One example he cites: the $3 hospital retail price for a 500 mg vitamin C tablet versus the 3-cent price at Wal-Mart.
He’s not trying to point blame for high medical prices with his game show, which he’d like to continue presenting. But he hopes it will spur questions such as, “What else could we be spending on, such as education and social services, if we weren’t paying so much for healthcare?”
Berkwitt created the game for a local arts festival.