Case Study

The Calendar Study

Problem

The savings rate for health expenses in Kenya is very low. This can be quite devastating when medical emergencies happen, especially for those in developing countries. At this point, it is often too late to find enough money. To address this dilemma, there needs to be a shift in attitudes and norms towards saving more money in advance of health crises.

Research

People often fail to act on important goals unless they are explicit and stay top of mind. We predicted that providing people with financial planning prompts would increase savings in a mobile health wallet. In addition, we predicted that we could increase savings by providing social proof of saving for health expenses.

Working with a local partner in Kenya, we distributed calendars to medical camp participants who had just been registered for a new mobile health wallet. We asked participants to make concrete health savings plans and distributed calendars that implemented several different behavioral interventions (using strategic planning, self-tracking, and implementation intentions). In addition to a control condition calendar that merely contained photos, we also distributed a calendar that included cartoon panels (but no financial planning prompts) telling the story of a father that used his mobile health wallet funds to successfully treat his ailing daughter at a clinic. After six months, we measured the amount and frequency of deposits made in the participants’ mobile health wallets.

Results

The calendar study demonstrates how storytelling and simple planning prompts can increase savings on a mobile health wallet offered to Kenyans. This can help them pre-pay for future health expenses.

Why it matters

Including planning prompts and/or social proof of savings behavior on marketing materials such as calendars can be an effective way to increase health savings behavior.

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