Two Interesting and Different Strategies for Tie-in
| Peter Lewin|
I have an all-in-one color printer, fax, scanner (Canon MX7600). It is pricey, but the real kicker is the cost of the toner. It uses 6 different cartridges. Some of them run out pretty frequently. Each costs around $20, basically for a small container of ink. When any one of the cartridges runs out the machine shuts down — though it could easily print black and white when one of the colors runs out. Also, and this is the interesting thing, when any toner cartridge runs out all of the other functions of the machine shut down — no outgoing faxes, no scanning — even though these have nothing to do with printing. This way I am inclined to replace the cartridge sooner rather than later. Annoying. I suspect this is deliberate and maybe not enough of a nuisance to be a selling point in the competition for consumers.
Very different: I am running out of my blood-pressure medicine. I have my own blood pressure machine, and as horrendously complicated as it is to use it, I have somehow managed to master the art. My blood pressure is normal while on the medication. I attempt to refill the prescription (which costs $12 without insurance — not even worth claiming). No refills left. The pharmacy calls the doctor. The doctor’s office calls me to make an appointment. For what? To get my blood pressure taken. I have my own machine. That is not good enough. We have to do it! My appointment is at 10:45. I see the nurse at 11:15, after filling out paperwork that I have filled out multiple times before. I see the doctor at 11:45. I leave the doctor’s office at 12:05 after he has sent in my refill prescription. I pay him $30 copay. The insurance pays him about $150 for an office visit. Do the math to see how much this $12 prescription cost me (include the opportunity cost of my time and the cost of the office visit — which is reflected in my insurance premium). This ability to tie-in the purchase of a prescribed medicine with the purchase of an office visit is a massive social cost that we all face. It is the result of the non-market delivery of health-care.