Abstract

User financial incentives (UFI), in the context of behavioural public policy, have the potential to shape Canadian health policy by replacing or augmenting traditional information-based mechanisms and by imparting a viewpoint that has traditionally been foreign to the public sphere. Whether or not UFI and more traditional "nudges" should be used, they will likely be limited by traditional moral, efficacy and cost/benefit challenges, as well as the political and bureaucratic impediments that emerge throughout the policy implementation process. These challenges will likely preclude UFI and nudges from having a transformative effect on public policy, but this new school of thought will likely gain prominence through more amorphous means as more individuals learn and adopt its central theory. We should be excited about the potential of UFI and the use of behavioural public policy, but should temper our excitement with realistic expectations about how extensively such an approach should and will be used.