Basic of Health Economics

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EL 12 Basics of Health Economics

Présentation et objectifs:

In every country (and many subnational structures, such as states and provinces), health economics plays, or should play, an important role in policy and operational decisions regarding, among others:

  • the appropriate role of government, markets and the private sector in the health sector;
  • resource allocation and mobilization that affect the equity and efficiency of public spending on health;
  • resource transfer mechanisms to hospitals and health care providers and the incentive systems that underlie them;
  • health system organizational structures and linkages between the levels;
  • health facility organizational structures; and
  • mechanisms to change behaviors of the population and health system providers in order to achieve better health.

Health economists can contribute to better decision making. While most economists train through university degree programs, short- and medium-term training is also required. Furthermore, health economists, even when they do exist and are well trained, are not always part of decision making in health ministries. A clear need exists to train and empower policy and operational decision makers on how health economics can help make health systems more effective, efficient and equitable.

The objectives of the course are to:

  • Expose participants to the potential contribution of health economics to decision making in the health sector. At the end of the course, participants will be able to:
    • use economic rationale to determine when a strong case exists for government action;
    • apply economics to improve the efficiency with which health resources are allocated;
    • analyze economic arguments to help improve technical efficiency in the health sector; and
    • explain how economics can help improve equity in the health sector.
  • Introduce participants to the language of economics and health sector reform so they can communicate more effectively with finance ministries. By the end of the course, participants will be able to:
    • justify the role of the public sector by correctly identifying market failures; and
    • apply the different dimensions of efficiency to ensure a larger return to investments in the health sector.

Principaux thèmes:

Course Structure
The course consists of 10 modules, grouped into 3 clusters:

Cluster 1 asks “Why Health Economics?” and attempts to answer this question by introducing the concepts of equity (Module 1) and efficiency (Module 2).
Cluster 2 delves into what markets are and how they are different in the health sector. Modules 4-7 deal with the concepts of markets, supply and demand, and reasons why markets may not function well in the health sector.

Cluster 3 asks “Who pays for what?” Modules 8-10 are concerned with health financing mechanisms (Module 8), health insurance (Module 9), and funding and remuneration in the health sector (Module 10).


Public Cible :

Non-health economists, who contribute to policy and operational decisions in the health sector, including:

Ministry of Health staff at the policy and operational decision-making levels in central and decentralized units

Ministry of Planning staff working in the health sector


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