Health Economics
Spring 2010 GMU Syllabus

Economics 496-002 (#12706), meets Tuesday and Thursday, 3:00-4:15p.m, in Shenandoah Hall (SH) 107.

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.
Reccomended Texts:
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.
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 pay for higher scores on physical fitness tests?
  2. Should Medicare or Medicaid let people diagnosed with a condition take a (perhaps discounted) cash equivalent, instead of medical treatment?
  3. Should all medical practice data be published, aside from data identifying patients?
Due Dates: Grade Weights: (depend on which class you enroll in) Class Participate 5%, 13% per Quiz, 13% per Defended Opinions, 17% final.

WeekLecture Topic
Jan 19,21 Overview of Health Economics.
Jan 26,28 What Makes Us Healthy?
Feb 2,4 More What Makes Us Healthy?
Feb 9,11 Snow
Feb 16,18 Does Medicine Help Health?
Feb 23,25 Health Externalities
Mar 2,4 Medicine in Other Times and Places
Mar 9,11 Spring Break
Mar 16,18 no class this week
Mar 23,25 Demand for Health and Medicine
Mar 30,Apr 1Supply of Medicine
Apr 6,8 Health Insurance
Apr 13,15 Variation in Quality of Medicine
Apr 20,22 Licensure, Certification, and Bans
Apr 27,29 Other Ways to Get Information on Quality
May 4 Explaining Health Strangeness
May 10 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.