Health Economics
Spring 2006 GMU Syllabus

Economics 496-004 & 895-008, meets Thursday, 7:20-10:00pm, in Robinson Hall B, Room 224. (Originally scheduled for Thompson 119.)

Instructor: Robin D. Hanson, Associate Professor, Economics (,
Office Hours: Officially M,Th 6:00-7:00. But I'm usually in at 10A Carow Hall. Call ahead (703-993-2326) if you want to be sure.
Catalog Entry:

Econ 496, 895 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.
Reccomended Texts: (None are required.)
Sherman Folland, Allen C. Goodman, Miron Stano, Economics of Health and Health Care, 4th Edition, Prentice Hall Business Publishing, 2004, ISBN: 0-13-100067-5, Sample Price $122.
Charles E. Phelps, Health Economics, Addison Wesley Publishing, 2003, ISBN: 0-321-06898-X, Sample Price $118.
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.
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.
For graduate students: To in addition write a coherent research paper related to health economics.
Assignments: Defended Opinion Topics
  1. Should we reduce medical subsidies to instead pay people on their performance on an annual physical fitness test?
  2. Should the tax-exemption for medical care be limited to care approved by federal evidence-based medicine panels?
  3. You may choose the last topic. Here are some health policy questions you might consider.
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, 1/2 research paper.
WeekLecture Topic
Jan 26 Overview of Health Economics. What Makes Us Healthy?
Feb 2 No classes
Feb 9 More What Makes Us Healthy?
Feb 16 Does Medicine Help Health?
Feb 23 More Does Medicine Help Health?
Mar 2 Medicine in Other Times and Places
Mar 9 Health Externalities
Mar 16 Spring Break
Mar 23 Demand for Health and Medicine
Mar 30 Supply of Medicine
Apr 6 Health Insurance
Apr 13 Variation in Quality of Medicine
Apr 20 Licensure, Certification, and Bans
Apr 27 Other Ways to Get Information on Quality
May 4 Explaining Health Strangeness

Lecture Readings and Sources

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

Misc Health Links

NBER papers, Yahoo, WebEc,