School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Health Economics and Financing for Developing Countries (PHCM9443)

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Description

You may be one of those people who asks yourself "what economics has to do with health and health care?" For some people, economics seems quite at odds with fundamental social goals such as  'good health'. The answer lies in the fact that resources are inevitably scarce and choices have to be made about their allocation. Health economics is about the optimisation of health relative to other activities and making choices to use resources in ways that improve health and service delivery within the limited resources available. Health economics can provide insight into questions like:  Which is the more effective method of increasing the uptake of health services: price-controls or subsidies? How will the involvement of the private sector in the funding and delivery of health care affect access to it? What are the most cost-effective mechanisms for delivering essential medicines to those living in remote areas? Are out of pocket payments for health care a regressive funding mechanism? How should doctors be paid? The primary goal of this course is to provide participants with the knowledge, skills, and basic economic arguments that are central to discussions about health policy options and resource allocation choices in low and middle income countries. By the end of the course, students will be in a stronger position to (i) Demonstrate understanding of the main functions and challenges facing health systems in the developing world; (ii) explain the key economic principles and concepts relevant to health economics and financing; (iii) discuss specific features that distinguish markets for health care from markets for other goods and services; (iv) distinguish between the principal ways of funding health services and paying health care providers; and (v) critically appraise evidence on the efficiency and equity implications of health financing reforms in low and middle income countries. 

Credit points

This course is an elective in the Master of Health Management, Master of Public Health and Master of International Public Health programs  comprising six units of credit towards the total required for completion of the study program.

Mode of delivery

This course is offered in two modes: 1) either face-to-face classes on-campus for Internal students, and 2) fully online for Distance External students.

Course aim

The goal of this course is to provide you with the knowledge, skills and fundamental economic arguments that are central to discussions about health policy options and resource allocation choices with a particular emphasis on low- and middle-income countries.

Course Outcomes
 
Drawing on examples and case studies from low- and middle- income countries, by the end of this course students will be able to:
  • Explain the key economic principles and concepts relevant to health economics and financing
  • Discuss specific features that distinguish markets for health care from markets for other goods and services and potential for market failure in the health sector
  • Distinguish between the principal ways of funding health services and paying health care providers
  • Critically appraise evidence on the efficiency and equity implications of health financing reforms in low- and middle- income countries
Learning and teaching rationale
While the concepts, theories and models discussed in this course are relevant to countries at all levels of development, this course focuses primarily on their application to low- and middle-income countries. You will explore health care systems in these countries drawing on rich sources of data and as case studies through which to analyse resource allocation decision-making.  You will then consider how to better deliver and finance services to improve health outcomes in these countries.
 
Assessment

Assessment Task 1 - Group report
Weighting: 20%
Length: N/A

Assessment Task 2 - Country case study
Weighting: 30%
Length: 1000 words

Assessment Task 3 - Essay on market failure in the health sector
Weighting: 50%
Length: 1500 words

Readings and resources

Learning resources for this course consist of the following:

  • Course Outline and Readings (Links posted in Moodle)
  • Lectures Slides (posted in Moodle)
  • Skills Building exercises (posted in Moodle)
  • Check your learning quizzes (posted in Moodle)
Recommended resources

Introduction to Health Economics, Second edition. Edited by Lorna Guinness and Virginia Wiseman