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Health Economics

  • Enseignant(s):   J.Maurer   M.Dusheiko  
  • Titre en français: Economie de la santé
  • Cours donné en: anglais
  • Crédits ECTS: 6 crédits
  • Horaire: Semestre d'automne 2021-2022, 4.0h. de cours (moyenne hebdomadaire)
  •  séances
  • Formation concernée: Maîtrise universitaire ès Sciences en économie politique
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Since the 1960’s, economists have studied the properties of health and health care. Their research has changed the way society promotes and maintains health and organizes the provision of health care. The health sector is an important priority for policy, as emphasised by the Covid-19 pandemic, however, it is very complex due to it being highly regulated, with mixed public and private sector organisations delivering and financing healthcare services. The main goal of the course is to introduce students to the field of health economics by providing a broad overview of some of the topics and fields of research. Through analysis of real-world cases and specific research papers on issues in high, low and middle-income countries; we will demonstrate the application of economic reasoning based on theoretical concepts and sophisticated empirical applications. The course provides important insights into how economics influences the health of populations, the financing and organisation of health care as well as the cost and quality of health care delivery around the world.

In higher income countries, health related expenditures account for the largest proportion of GDP, with expenditures rising faster than incomes. Hence, the sustainability of the financing and delivery of health care is of major concern with pressures to improve productivity and quality of care. There are important socio-economic inequalities in health. Moreover, our understanding of health risks and the behaviours that influence them have grown significantly, and the economic influences and cost-effectiveness of interventions to reduce these risks is an important area of research. In lower income countries, health spending is still insufficient to meet the needs of the population, and although significant progress has been made in improving health outcomes and access to better health care through international initiatives; rapidly changing disease burdens, and the problems of adopting necessary health technologies, imply that improved mechanisms to finance and deliver health care are needed.

The course applies microeconomic tools supported by robust empirical evidence and real-world case studies, to the understanding of the economics of health behaviours and the organisation of health care markets. We focus on concepts such as the demand for health and health care, health insurance, competition in health care markets, influence of payment systems on health care provider behaviour, and the economics of the pharmaceutical sector. We will also focus on how the research in health economics has assisted our understanding of policy options in the health care industry as well as illustrating the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. During the course, we will also discuss several important health and health care challenges for low- and middle-income countries and how they shape current policy approaches in global health.


An outline of the lecture topics covered by term weeks is given below:

1. Introduction and a short refresher on econometric tools for program evaluation

2. Interpreting and using evidence for health policy

3. Health: Its meaning, measurement, evolution and distribution

4. Health care costs: Overview and drivers

5. Health care markets and systems: Physicians, hospitals, regulators, payers etc (including related case study)

6. Economics of health insurance I

7. Economics of health insurance II (including related case study)

8. Health care supply: Quality, competition, and regional variation

9. Health care financing, incentives and provider payments (managed care)

10. Pharmaceutical industry and technological evaluation (including related case study)

11. Health and its social determinants in LMICs (including case discussion)

12. Health behaviors and demand-side challenges to health in LMICs (including case discussion)

13. Health care supply issues in LMICs (including case discussion)

14. Health care financing in LMICs and universal health coverage (including case discussion)


Reading material will consist of published articles from economic journals and specialist health economic field journals. But will also include wider literature from health policy, health services research and medical journals.

Case studies from various sources will be provided with supplementary reading and data to support the analysis of the case.

For the articles and case studies, see the Content and Reading Lists as well as lecture folders to be posted in the Moodle site for the course.


The only prerequisite of the course is to be familiar with microeconomic theory and applications at an intermediate level and applied econometrics and Statistics also at an intermediate level.


1ère tentative

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The course will be evaluated by group work analysis and presentations of case studies, participation during the case study presentations and discussion, preparation of short individual case reports, and a final written exam.

The distribution of grades is as follows:

2 separate group work assignments involving the analysis and presentation of assigned case studies: 2 x 15% (30% of final grade).

2 short essays analysing two case studies of a student’s choice, but that were presented by the other groups: 2 x 10% (20% of the final grade)

Class participation during the presentation and discussion of the case studies (at least 5/6): 10% of final grade (attendance, involvement and contribution to discussion).

Final written exam: 40% of final grade.

Note that the evaluation modalities may change if required by the COVID situation.


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A retake evaluation will take the form of a written exam (the grades from the group work, class participation and short essays will NOT count toward the retake evaluation)

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