EC 782

Health Economics II (PhD level)

September 2023 Class meetings:  MW 3:30-4:45 pm   SSW 546

Professor Randall Ellis
Office: Room 555
270 Bay State Road
ellisrp at bu dot edu
tel: 617-353-2741

Classes will be held in person. Office hours will be in person unless you can provide a compelling reason.

Office hours:  Tuesday 2-3:30 am and Wed 11:30-12:30 am. Other times by appointment.

You are encouraged to sign up for a slot for my office hours here, although walk-ins are also welcome. Please confirm scheduled meetings via emails and tell me the purpose if useful.

I try to reserve Thursdays for research. Please try not to ask to meet on Thursdays.

This syllabus is for the empirical and policy portion of the two-course sequence in Health Economics at the Ph.D. level. Professor Albert Ma teaches 781 Health Economics I in the spring. You do not need to have taken EC781 to take this course. Students should be comfortable with microeconomics courses of the Ph.D. program as well as at least master’s level econometrics. A background in Industrial Organization is helpful, but is not a prerequisite.The class also has readings from labor, development, and public economics.

There will be one in-class mid-term examination based on first half of the term, and a final examination based on the second half material. You are invited to write a final paper instead of taking the final exam, but need to turn in an outline of that paper by October 31. The final paper is due on the same day as the final exam.

There will be seven homework assignments linked here and two short in-class presentations with instructions here.

Grading will be as follows.

Midterm Examination: 20%  (October, during class time)

Final Examination or Term Paper: 35%   (Date and time TBA)

Class participation and preparation: 10%

Presentations and presentation material (including PowerPoint/PDF slides) 15%

Homework assignments: 20%

Course web site (this page):

There is no required text for this course. BUT there are many great articles as well as:

Recommended reading

I strongly recommend that you read/scan the following book. (You could share one with a classmate or borrow a copy from me.)

Elisabeth Askin and Nathan Moore. 2024. The Health Care Handbook: A Clear and Concise Guide to the United States Health Care System. 3nd Edition Paperback – February 24, 2023. The Intro and Chapter 1 are posted on my EC387 class where I am using it for background readings. It is rich on institutional details, data, and references with a sole focus on the US.

Paperback:  $30 plus delivery, or $18 on Kindle on Amazon   I was able to purchase new copies of this third edition for only $24 delivered on the Amazon site, but it was slow.

In July 2023, I just received the hot-off-the-presses book Why not Better and Cheaper? by James Rebitzer (BU Questrom) and Robert Rebitzer (MD Stanford Fellow). I have posted on the course web site and here Chapter 1 which provides a summary (or precis) of the main arguments of the book. I plan to extract segments for discussion. It is an excellent, brief overview of the US problems and recent literature.  It is $33.00 for hardback on Amazon, available used for $25, $18 on Kindle, and only One Credit on Audibles. Its focus is on Innovation and behavioral economics solutions to the mess we have now. It is a wonderful book to read if you are looking for original topics to study.

If you are planning to learn SAS which is a powerful language for manipulating and analyzing very large data, and plan to use it as your choice for the first homework assignment, I encourage you to purchase the following reference.

Rick Aster. 2017. Professional SAS Programmers Pocket Reference. It is available for $25 new copy on Amazon, and it is less for older versions.

If you want to buy an instructional manual in SAS then many people like the following.

Delwiche, Lora D., and Susan J. Slaughter. The little SAS book: a primer. SAS institute. It is only $5 used for the 5th edition (2016) although the 6th edition (2019) is $54 with few used copies available. I find that the changes are trivial and not worth worrying about for learning SAS. I will hand out SAS training material sufficient to do the homework assignments and have some copies that can be rented for the term.

Optional reading.

Everyone in the course is encouraged to read  the following. (You could share one with a classmate or ask to borrow mine.)

Richard Thaler. 2016. Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics Paperback: used from $5 on Amazon, Electronic $8.98 on Amazon

This highly accessible and entertaining book gives an excellent overview of behavioral economics and rebuts with evidence and logic the usual assumption that Humans always act as rational Econs. We will also be modeling that Human Doctors behave differently than Econs and Hippocratic Doctors.

Original articles, review articles and working papers will be the primary readings. Articles will be posted on the course web site (Accessible only to the BU community with a BU password).

If you are interested in behavioral economics, then the following classic book is the one to read.

Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast & Slow [Paperback]  October 2011

My goal is that 20% of the course reflects my passion for behavioral economics.

See course outline for detailed readings and calendar.

See slides and handouts page for prospective and past copies of slides and handouts.  Many of these will be updated.

Please know and adhere to the BU Academic Conduct Code. I like to encourage collaboration between students, however your written responses on assignments, the midterm and finals should be your own words. Joint papers or homework are allowed with explicit co-authorship.

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