Healthcare reform: 4 roles for Health Economics and Policy graduates

The Barcelona GSE is offering a new master program in Health Economics and Policy for the 2011-12 academic year. In what capacities will graduates of this program be able to apply their training to current issues in health and policy making?

Health Economics and Policy Program Director Prof. Pau Olivella (UAB and GSE) and Scientific Director Prof. Guillem López-Casasnovas (UPF-CRES and GSE) explain that Health Economics and Policy graduates will be prepared to fill the increasing international demand for professionals and academics with an analytical capacity oriented towards decision-making in all aspects of the healthcare sector.

To illustrate this, they outline four key roles that Health Economics and Policy graduates would be able to play in the current debate on healthcare reform in the United States.

"Not just the United States but most countries around the world are trying to come up with new healthcare systems to strike the correct balance between efficiency and equity," they explain. "The case of healthcare reform in the U.S. is just one example of many we could cite where trained health economists are needed to formulate improvements over existing policies in order to get better health outcomes."

4 roles for trained health economists

1. Researcher

Academics trained in this master will be best equipped to develop a clear picture of the current panorama in U.S. healthcare. They will be the best prepared to educate the ultimate stakeholders in the healthcare debate: government officials, private health organizations, and the general public. They will also be able to use their training in quantitative methods and economic analysis to analyze the outcomes of policy decisions, which will be crucial for making the correct adjustments to these policies in the months and years to come.

2. Non-profit organizations and NGOs involved in the health care sector

The reform will affect society from the point of view of efficiency, equity, and other ethical principles. Graduates will be able to provide intellectual support for the agenda of NFPs and NGOs thorough their sound understanding of the effects of the reform in all these areas.

3. Consultant in the private sector

Graduates will be able to understand and apply the tools of industrial organization and regulation to predict the consequences of the U.S. healthcare reform for the private firms operating in the health and healthcare sectors: health insurance companies, health maintenance organizations, pharmaceutical firms and firms involved in other health technologies.

4. Policymaker / Government official

Trained health economists are needed in this role to inform on existing alternatives to politically defined goals; to build on them the best courses of action by identifying their associated costs and benefits; to assess the societal consequences by following the standard economic evaluation, cost benefit and cost utility analysis; to quantify the global assessed net discounted values; and finally insert in the political economy discussion the most relevant equity aspects 'from' and 'for' those public actions. This makes for a large technical role close to better informed policy makers without falling in the political arena.

U.S. Healthcare Reform - 4 roles for Health Economics and Policy graduates


At the interface of economics and medicine

Prof. Olivella and Prof. López-Casasnovas emphasize that the Health Economics and Policy master program will train students to appraise existing policy interventions in healthcare systems in countries around the world.

"The program combines analytical rigor and a deep knowledge of the interface of economics and medicine," the directors state in their letter to program candidates. "All stakeholders, be they health agencies in governments, healthcare suppliers, or taxpayers, are seeking professionals with a good command of analytic techniques and a deep knowledge of the institutional background. This is the training that this new master aims to give to its students."

What roles do health economists play in the policy making process?

  • Biomedicine and Biotechnology in Healthcare
  • Econometrics
  • Economic Evaluation of Health (micro- and macro-level courses)
  • Economics and Financing of Healthcare Systems
  • Economics of Health and Healthcare
  • Economics of Health Care Organizations
  • Economics of Innovation
  • Ethics and Health
  • Global Economic Evaluation of Health
  • Health Microeconomics
  • Information Economics
  • Policy Evaluation and Applied Quantitative Methods for Health Economics
  • Principles of Microeconomics
  • Seminars in Health Economics and Public Health
  • Statistics in Medicine
  • Topics in Health Economics and Policy


Read more about GSE Master Programs