Health Economics Program

Conducting Cutting-Edge Research and Education Programs

Increasingly, health care decisions must reflect concerns about the costs of treatment. Policy-makers face trade-offs in promoting the highest quality care and addressing disparities in access and utilization. SPH’s program in Health Economics, established in 1999, conducts cutting-edge research and education programs that explore the consequences of how health care is organized and funded, both nationally and internationally.

Current research focuses on the effects of ambulatory surgery centers and other innovative treatment modalities, value based purchasing programs, the adequacy of the health care workforce, the effects of HMO regulation, current Medicare and Medicaid policy, cost-effectiveness and budget impact analysis, the role of specialty hospitals in the US health care system, the design of payment systems, and the changing demand for health care services. In these and other efforts, the program draws on the expertise of senior health economists in the School’s Department of Health Law, Policy, and Management and at the VA Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research (CHOIR).

A series of funded proposals from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has supported work understanding the quality, cost and efficiency of specialty hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, and other recent incentive driven innovations in health care delivery as well.

The director of SPH’s Program in Health Economics, James F. Burgess, Jr., PhD, is well known as a leader in the field. A co-founding editor of Health Economics Letters, the first fully electronic, peer-reviewed journal in the field, he also sits on the editorial board of its parent publication, Health Economics and is a Senior Associate Editor at Health Services Research.  At AcademyHealth, he is Vice Chair of its Methods Council. Burgess has served as an international advisor to the government of Australia, in the effort to develop an economic and behavioral model of that country’s health care system. As an advisor to the government of the Netherlands, he has helped develop a prototype for a competitive hospital sector.  In addition, he leads the efforts to work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Value Based Purchasing, including serving as Technical Advisory Committee Chair of the efforts to study and update hospital quality metrics.

Most excitingly in 2017, the Health Economics Program at SPH at Boston University will be hosting the World Congress of Health Economists, sponsored by the International Health Economics Association (  The 12th World Congress will feature the theme: Revolutions in the Economics of Health Systems and approximately 2000 health economists will visit Boston University for this scientific conference. 

For further information, please contact James F. Burgess, Jr., PhD, Director of the Health Economics Program at BUSPH (617-414-1424 or email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it).

Previously, the 20th-anniversary meeting of the Annual Health Economics Conference (AHEC) was held on October 23 and 24, 2009. The conference themes were in the economics of value, quality, and cost, and industrial organization. Our special invited keynote speaker was David Hyman on the latter topic.

2009 20th-Annual Health Economics Conference (AHEC)

The purpose of this invitational conference is to facilitate the exposure to and discussion of cutting-edge research in health economics. We are devoting a part of the conference to two theme areas in value/quality/cost and industrial organization.

For further information, please contact James F. Burgess, Jr., PhD, Director of the Health Economics Program at BUSPH (617-414-1424 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it).

Hosted by: Health Economics Program, Department of Health Policy & Management, Boston University School of Public Health

Co-Sponsors included: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Industry Studies Program, Department of Economics, Boston University, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

Papers from this conference included:

Paying a Premium on your Premium? Consolidation in the U.S. Health Insurance Industry“
Authors: Leemore Dafny, Mark Duggan, and Subbu Ramanarayanan

Competition in Two-Sided Markets with Common Network Externalities”
uthors: David Bardey, Helmuth Cremer and Jean-Marie Lozachmeur

The Impact of Comparative Effectiveness Research on the Quality and Cost of Health Care”A
Authors: Anirban Basu and Tomas Philipson

Experimenting within Experiments: Patient Learning and Experimentaiton in Clinical Trials”
Author: Jose Fernandez

Consumers, Health Insurance and Dominated Choices”
Authors: Anna Sinaiko and Richard Hirth

Hospital Response to Pay-for-Performance Incentives”
Author: Lauren Hirsch Nicholas

The Effect of Report Cards on Within-Hospital Medical/Surgical Sorting”
Author: Andrew Sfekas

Cost Efficiency and Clinical Quality in Health Maintenance Organizations, 1998-2002″
Authors: Woolton Lee and Dennis Scanlon

“The Impact of Retail Clinics on Cost, Utilization and Welfare“
Authors: Steve Parente and Bob Town

“Standardization under Group Incentives”
Authors: Jonathan Ketcham, Pierre Leger and Claudio Lucarelli

Cross-Bundling and (Anti) Competitive Behavior: Evidence from the Pharmaceutical Industry”
Authors: Claudio Lucarelli, Sean Nicholson, and Minjae Song