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Health Economics ECN 355 Spring 2013

Course Introduction

Professor Lawrence S. Mayer, MD, MS, PhD
[Assisted by Professor Elton Bordenave, M.Ed., CHC]

Office: 4th Floor Computer Commons
email: lawrence.mayer@asu.edu Phone: 480-965-6528

Objective: This course is an introduction to the American (meaning U.S.) health-care system from a policy perspective using an economics lens. It applies concepts of economics as well as history, philosophy, sociology and political science to understand both the evolution and current state of the health-care system and to understand recent changes in the system and proposals for additional change. It focuses on the promise and limitations of economic analysis to understand the current state of health care in the United States. It will cover the new federal health care law, its implications and the efforts to repeal it.

Goal: To enhance your ability to apply economic principles to complex issues in health policy in a way that is sensitive to the associated moral, ethical, legal, cultural and historical issues but is analytically sound. For those of you going to graduate school in economics, to expose you to a critical topic in applied economics. For those of you going to a career in health care, an MBA program, or law school, to learn how to bring economic ideas to bear on health care issues in a sensitive multidisciplinary manner. For those of you going to medical school, to help you appreciate how important health policy, particularly economics, is to the health-care system and to the lives of doctors and patients.

Background: It is assumed you are familiar with the rudimentory concepts of economics (price, demand, markets, return, rents, etc.). In addition, it would be to your advantage to obtain some knowledge of the American health-care system, the new federal health-care law and the current health-care debate. You might want to read on health reform on the Web or in current magazines and newspapers.

Required Texts:

Starr, Paul (1982) The Social Transformation of American Medicine. A classic that won the coveted Pulitzer Prize but is somewhat wordy and repetitious. Introduces the evolution of the culture and organization of American medicine. Helps us understand how the current American health-care system evolved in terms of economic, cultural, political and religious forces. We will read all of Book 1, the first part of the text.

Goodman, John C. (2012) Priceless, Curing the Healthcare Crisis. An excellent, readable introduction to the free-market approach to health-care reform. To quote Uwe E. Reinhardt, the James Madison Professor of Political Economy at Princeton and the outstanding liberal analyst of health-care reform, “If liberal commentators wish to sharpen their claws there is no better stone on which to do it than John Goodman’s book Priceless”

Reid, T. R. (2010) The Healing of America: A Global Quest for a Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care. A delightful, easy to read, review of the various health-care systems around the world. Mr. Reid is an award winning journalist that chronicles his journey around the world to get his injured shoulder repaired. It shows that the American system is unlike any other in the world. A New York Times Book of the Year. This book was new to the course last year and got rave reviews from the class. Reid presents the liberal position that everyone in the world should have access to excellent health-care regardless of cost.

James B. Stewart (2000) Blind Eye: The Terrifying Story of a Doctor Who Got Away With Murder. A popular entertaining book that highlights the failure of physicians to monitor their colleagues. It is assigned to point out the need for some regulation of the health-care market.

Attendance: This class is twice (if not thrice [three times]!) the size it should be if the goal were to maximize your learning experience. While we always encouraged attendance, requiring...
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