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Wii Australia Government Medicine Games

Should the Gov't Pay For Injured Man's Wii? 222

An anonymous reader writes "Politicians in the Australian state of Victoria are currently locked in a debate about whether an injured man should be able to claim the cost of a Nintendo Wii for rehabilitation purposes under worker's compensation. The man's doctor apparently recommended he use the Wii Fit exercise device, but both insurance companies and the government itself have blocked the payment and have now ridiculed the idea as paying for video games. But with the Wii Fit increasingly being used for rehabilitation purposes internationally, does the man have a fair case?"
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Should the Gov't Pay For Injured Man's Wii?

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  • by dingen ( 958134 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:42AM (#32070538)
    I'm not saying they should condone it, but a Wii is probably a lot cheaper than any other form of treatment or medication. Just saying.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:55AM (#32070600)

    first off, its a supplement to physio, not a replacement. second, there's nothing you can do with a wii fit that you cant do without it, it's a bunch of a normal exercises. it's a nice way to help encourage kids to exercise, but he's a freaking adult, he can rehab without it just as well.

  • Yes, and no. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phoenix ( 2762 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:59AM (#32070612)

    Since the Doctor suggested the Wii Fit, then I have no problems with the idea of the Government pay for the Wii Fit. If this were in the US, then I would agree that the Insurance company pay for it.


    Since the Wii can be used for more than just the physical fitness applications, the Wii itself should not be paid for.

  • Re:Yes, and no. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clemdoc ( 624639 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:09AM (#32070648)
    If I break a leg, I get crutches (if necessary)[1]. After I don't need them anymore, I have to give them back or pay for them. Same thing for the wii -> problem solved.
    [1] In Austria. YMMV
  • Also... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:18AM (#32070692) Journal

    ...there is more than one way to play... []

    Winning in a Wii game does not necessarily mean exercising.

  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted&slashdot,org> on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:21AM (#32070702)

    Hey, it’s better than the $15000 a “officially accepted” device would cost, that would do the same job.
    I say, it is completely irrelevant what the device was “supposed to be’. What counts is:
    1. Did it help him?
    2. Was it not pointlessly expensive?
    And as it looks like that’s a yes, and a yes, I say: If you’d pay a “official” device, of course it should be paid. And you should be thankful that he didn’t take the $15000 device. ^^

  • by psnyder ( 1326089 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:25AM (#32070718)
    Because the man can do the same exercises without the Wii, without the game.

    Wii Fit is like a cheap personal trainer/motivator. No competent doctor is going to recommend it as a full replacement for a rehabilitation therapist. But they may recommend it as healthy, daily exercise. The same thing can be accomplished by handing the man a pamphlet, except Wii Fit motivates better.

    Yes, Wii Fit should be recommended to motivate patients. No, a government shouldn't pay for this "extra motivation".
  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:30AM (#32070734) Homepage

    I hate video games!

    So what? You don't have to score points, just perform the motion and ignore the "game".

  • by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:45AM (#32070814)

    I sort of agree with you, but playing Devil's advocate for a moment... The same motions that you go through at a "rehabilitation therapist" can be done without one as well, but they still pay for those when appropriate.

    I'm actually okay with the device being a loaner that is owned by the hospital/doctor, and is expected to be returned in full working order after rehab is done. I'm not okay with the government/insurance buying him a video game machine to keep.

  • I don't get it. The man's doctor recommended he use a wii. Why shouldn't the government or insurance pay for it as part of his workers comp? If they're gunna pay for him to receive treatment, why are they making such a big fuss about something his doctor recommended?

    They are spending way more money (time and resources) on fighting it than they would if they just bought the damn thing. Seriously, a Wii and a Wii Fit are equivalent dollar-wise to probably between one and two hours of lawyer-time. The cost of having various flackeys come up with reasons why not paying for the wii is the right thing to do, writing that out for the rejection letter, press releases, internal memos, etc. all adds up too.

    Frankly, the AU government and/or the insurance company is wasting its money - not only in fighting the payment for a wii, but in the way it approves or rejects payments. The process should be really simple: Did the doctor recommend it? Do we have any reason to suspect the doctor? Is there a clearly less expensive substitute that still fulfills the doctor's recommendation (i.e., a Wii not custom fabricated out of gold)? Is the payment less than x (x being the cost of rejecting the payment and winning a typical subsequent legal challenge)?

    All of these questions are really easy and would take up less than 5 minutes of a reviewers time. They would also weed out most fraud.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:57AM (#32070876)

    You cannot return a used joint but you can return a used Wii.

    Just make them return the Wii once treatment is over. You don't get to keep "free" wheelchairs after you've recovered either.

  • by dingen ( 958134 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:59AM (#32070888)

    why are they making such a big fuss about something his doctor recommended?

    Because it's a game console. You can play Zelda on it. And Mario. Playing such games doesn't have anything to do with treating the man's injury. Besides (and maybe even more important) a lot of people want a game console, like a Nintendo Wii. Giving away such devices for free when people are sick is going to make a lot of people sick.

  • by tibit ( 1762298 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:11AM (#32070948)

    And you can use crutches as beating sticks, too.

  • by Cornwallis ( 1188489 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:12AM (#32070954)

    Exactly! This is a very cheap "out". Look at all the money spent on those ridiculous "scooters" from the Scooter Store and similar soak-the-insurance schemes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:22AM (#32070998)

    Parent brings a great point that you can use medical devices for any other reason aside from its intended purpose - but the wii with wii fit is still a valid recommendation despite it. I'd mod parent up, the "Because you CAN use something for evil means it must necessarily be useless" argument is unacceptable, I'd think /.ers would be all about seeing the idiocy behind that.

  • by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:54AM (#32071180) Homepage

    If a doctor(never mind whether the doctor is reputable, he is a doctor) recommends that I do heroin to help with my stubbed toe, should the government and insurance companies pay for it, simply because some
    doctor says that it would help rehabilitate me?

    Yes. I don't see why insurance companies should be in the business of deciding who needs what treatment. That's what the doctors are for. If a doctor finds that a somewhat unusual method gets the right results cheaply, then that's fine with me.

    Now, if the doctor is prescribing the wrong things, or for the wrong reasons, go after the doctor and revoke their license.

    Any exercise that this man could do on a Wii Fit is an exercise he could do without it. If he ends up getting one, I can only hope he is forced to give it back once he has been fully rehabilitated.

    You're saying it as if the alternative to the Wii was simply no Wii. No, the alternative would be a licensed therapist, who probably charges per hour a significant part of the cost of a new Wii + Wii Fit. So the Wii, if it works is actually by far the cheapest option.

  • by TRRosen ( 720617 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:19AM (#32071400)

    Yes and ice cream is yummy. Therefore giving it to kids that have had their tonsils out will make more kids have tonsillitis.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:38AM (#32071576)
    Exactly. The whole exercise part of the Wii is questionable at best. Even Miyamoto himself said that it's very unlikely that Wii Fit would actually improve someone's health, but that it's a starting point, a catalyst if you will, to put people on the right track.

    No, Wii Fit is not a replacement for something like running or lifting weights. But it absolutely is useful for basic mobility exercises and balance training, which is what a lot of physical/rehabilitative therapy is.
  • by TRRosen ( 720617 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:39AM (#32071596)

    Heck the doctor probably billed more while recommending it.

    For all the people whinging about the cost if it replaces just one session of therapy its already saved money. I had knee surgery due to an injury at work and my Physical therapy sessions cost more than a Wii ($240/two hour sessions)

    And for the rental theory. If rental was required the suppliers would charge more for rent of a Wii in a couple of months then the total cost of a new unit. That I can guarantee.

  • sounds familiar (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TRRosen ( 720617 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:44AM (#32071646)

    reminds me of Roger Ebert's complaint that his insurance would pay $8000 for a bulky piece of crap machine with a keyboard to speak for him that sounded like a bad 60s Sci-fi robot but refused to pay $1000 for a macbook that could do the same thing much better.

  • I'm with the government on this one. If there's a need for low cast at-home virtual rehabilitation systems, perhaps the market should make some?

    It has, apparently - the Wii.

  • by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:12AM (#32072832)
    There was a case a while ago about an iPhone being used as a medical device. And it was several times cheaper than the comparable tool. But it wasn't allowed because it was a phone/toy and not suited for the purpose.

    Personally, I think these big companies are missing an opportunity. Why wouldn't nintendo gimp the wii, stick it in a sturdy box and allow people to use it for one purpose only, then double the price and sell it as a medical tool. Same with cellphone companies that could be producing today's tricorders.
  • by Phrogman ( 80473 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:21AM (#32072910) Homepage

    The Insurance companies more than likely have a deal with the manufacturers of that bulky, ugly equipment so that they get a kickback on any purchases they support. Insurance companies are not about providing a useful service to their customers, they are about making as much money as possible while paying out the least amount possible.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:25AM (#32072958) Homepage
    Worker's comp is a form of insurance.

    Typically, it also comes with the provision that you cannot sue your employer for negligence, so business gets an enormous perk, and workers get fixed up so they continue to be productive for themselves and their families. Anyway, only complete retard would say that it would be better to be able to sue a company for millions, than pay $300 for a Wii.
  • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by miggyb ( 1537903 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @12:07PM (#32073462) Homepage
    You do realize you're typing this on the Internet, which came from ARPANET, which was a military project funded by the government, right?
  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @12:30PM (#32073794) Homepage Journal

    So they might accidentally allow him to enjoy it as well as get his medically required rehabilitation? At no additional cost to them? OH THE HUMANITY!

    Just take it back when he's rehabilitated. If he's actually willing to go to all of the trouble of committing an ongoing fraud to keep the device, then he actually DOES have an ongoing disabling mental illness.

    It amazes me the way societies willingly spend vast amounts of money just to make sure nobody accidentally gets some small thing for nothing (all adding up to somewhat less vast amounts of money).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @12:57PM (#32074134)

    oh snap that was brilliant.

    anyways a wii is about the cheapest rehab device ever. let's waste thousands arguing about it instead!

  • by NiteShaed ( 315799 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @02:53PM (#32075420)

    If we get find the government involved in buying video game consoles, the prices WILL go up. This will make a nice experiment. Let's make it so that insurance covers them. We'll have $1000 Wiis before you know it. It will then be called a failure of the "free market".

    How do you figure that? The government buys lots of things, and generally in much greater bulk than they could conceivably buy Wii consoles in. Laptops, monitors, pens, paper, bullets, cars....the list goes on and on. Since we're not paying $10,000 for a Dell laptop, or $4 per round of 9mm ammunition due to government purchases, why do you think the Wii would be affected this way?
    This also has nothing to do with the free market. Government purchases are just as much a part of the free market as any other purchase, so long as they don't legislate an arbitrary price and force the manufacturer to sell it at that price.

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