Health Economics
Spring 2009 GMU Syllabus

Economics 496-002 (#12895), meets Tuesday and Thursday, 3:00-4:15p.m, in Thompson Hall 117.

Instructor: Robin D. Hanson, Associate Professor, Economics (,
Office Hours: Officially Thursday 4:30-6:30pm, but I'm usually in at 10A Carow Hall. Email or call ahead (703-993-2326) if you want to be sure.
Catalog Entry:

Econ 496 Health Economics (3:3:0). Prerequisites: ECON 306. Determinants of Health. Supply, Demand, and Institutions of Health Insurance and Care. Evaluation of Market Failure Rationales for Regulation.
Required Texts:
Shannon Brownlee, Overtreated, Bloomsbury, 2007, ISBN: 1-58234-580-5. Sample price: $19.
Joseph P. Newhouse And The Insurance Experiment Group, Free For All? Lessons from the RAND Health Insurance Experiment, Harvard University Press, 1993, ISBN: 0-674-31914-1, Sample Price $27.
Reccomended Texts:
Sherman Folland, Allen C. Goodman, Miron Stano, Economics of Health and Health Care, 4th Edition, Prentice Hall Business Publishing, 2007, ISBN: 0-13-100067-5, Sample Price $158.
Charles E. Phelps, Health Economics, Addison Wesley Publishing, 2003, ISBN: 0-321-06898-X, Sample Price $145.
Goal of Class
For undergraduates: To become familiar with basic facts and issues in health economics, and to be able to make an economically-coherent defense of one's opinions on health policy questions.
Assignments: Defended Opinion Topics
  1. Should we reduce medical subsidies to instead subsidize living with cleaner air: away from cities, and with better ventilation?
  2. Shall medical tax breaks be given only for neighborhood group plans, instead of employer group plans?
  3. Should we allow faith healers to charge for a) words and hands, b) drugs and devices?
Due Dates: Grade Weights: (depend on which class you enroll in)
  1. 496: Class Participate 5%, 13% per Quiz, 13% per Defended Opinions, 17% final.
  2. 895: 1/2 of grade above items (held to a higher standard), 1/2 research paper.
WeekLecture Topic
Jan 22 Overview of Health Economics.
Jan 27,29 What Makes Us Healthy?
Feb 3 More What Makes Us Healthy? No class Thurs.
Feb 10,12 Does Medicine Help Health?
Feb 27,19 Health Externalities
Feb 24,26 Medicine in Other Times and Places
Mar 3,5 Demand for Health and Medicine
Mar 10,12 Spring Break
Mar 17,19 Supply of Medicine
Mar 24,26 Health Insurance
Mar 31,Apr 2 Variation in Quality of Medicine
Apr 7,9 Licensure, Certification, and Bans
Apr 14,16 Other Ways to Get Information on Quality
Apr 21,23 Explaining Health Strangeness
Apr 28,30 Slack and Review
May 5 No Class
May 12 Final Exam

Lecture Readings and Sources

On the web, this links to a page of sources, most of which have links.

Disability Notice

If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see me and contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at 703.993.2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through that office.