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 value based purchasing programs, the adequacy of the health care workforce, the effects of HMO regulation, current Medicare and Medicaid policy, cost-effectiveness 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 Policy & Management and at affiliated VA research centers.

Funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Value Based Purchasing is supporting work on Medicare program proposals for both Hospital and Physician Value Based Purchasing programs. 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, PhD, is well known as a leader in the field. A cofounding 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. 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 work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Value Based Purchasing.

Most excitingly in 2009, the Health Economics Program at SPH will be hosting the 20th-anniversary meeting of the Annual Health Economics Conference (AHEC) on October 23 and 24. This year, the conference themes are in the economics of value, quality, and cost, and industrial organization. Our special invited keynote speaker is David Hyman on the latter topic.  Please check back in this space for further updates on conference activities at this prestigious invitation-only conference as they become available:

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

Papers Currently Available for Review for the Conference Include:

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