Health Economics
Spring 2007 GMU Syllabus

Economics 496-004 & 895-008, meets Thursday, 4:30-7:10pm, in Enterprise, Room 173.

Instructor: Robin D. Hanson, Associate Professor, Economics (,
Office Hours: Officially Mon 6:00-7:00pm, Th 3:00-4:00pm, 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, 4=5th Edition, Prentice Hall Business Publishing, 2007, ISBN: 9780132279420, Sample Price $120.
Charles E. Phelps, Health Economics, Addison Wesley Publishing, 2003, ISBN: 0-321-06898-X, Sample Price $110.
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 (not term) paper related to health economics.
Assignments: Defended Opinion Topics
  1. Should we reduce medical subsidies to instead subsidize people to live where the air is cleaner: away from cities, and in better ventilated homes and offices?
  2. Should Medicare or Medicaid let people diagnosed with a condition take a (perhaps discounted) cash equivalent, instead of medical treatment?
  3. Should nurses and paramedics be allowed to compete directly with doctors in providing primary care?
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 25 Overview of Health Economics. What Makes Us Healthy?
Feb 1 More What Makes Us Healthy?
Feb 8 Does Medicine Help Health?
Feb 15 More Does Medicine Help Health?
Feb 22 Medicine in Other Times and Places
Mar 1 Health Externalities
Mar 8 Demand for Health and Medicine
Mar 15 Spring Break
Mar 22 Supply of Medicine
Mar 29 Health Insurance
Apr 5 Variation in Quality of Medicine
Apr 12 Licensure, Certification, and Bans
Apr 19 Other Ways to Get Information on Quality
Apr 26 Explaining Health Strangeness
May 3 More 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,

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.