The Economics of Health Care: Pharmaceuticals, Insurance, and Legal Reform

Apr 22, 2003Apr 25, 2003


Session One: New Drugs: Health and Economic Impacts
Frank Lichtenberg, Ph.D.
Professor of Business
Columbia University 

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Session Two: Health Insurance and Economic Reform 
Mark Grady, Dean
School of Law
George Mason University 

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Session Three: Economics and Law of Health Legal Reform
Charles Phelps, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
University of Rochester 

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Constituent complaints about the U.S. health care system are well known to Congressional offices: rising costs and spending, stagnant quality, restricted choices, and tens of millions uninsured.

At the same time, however, our health care industry is at the forefront of developing new treatments and is attracting the most skilled physicians from overseas. What do these conflicting images of health care mean for those trying to improve the system? Can both descriptions be true?

Exploring the economic incentives and rules that govern health care decisions could shed some light on these competing realities. Policymakers who familiarize themselves with these incentives, and the consequences of changing them, will be more capable of proposing viable remedies to the system while preserving its desirable qualities.

By providing an economic framework for understanding health markets and institutions, this three-day course will allow staffers to better analyze health policy concerns that cross their desks.

Participants will address such questions as:

  • Why do prescription drug prices vary so much across the country and world? Can drugs be made more affordable without stifling innovation?
  • How do Insurance companies and HMO's determine "adequate" levels of care? What can government do to influence the outcome?
  • How did America's health institutions evolve? Are there alternative means of providing health insurance to the public? How can we help the uninsured?
  • What is responsible for the recent rise in health care costs? Will limiting lawsuit settlements improve access to quality health care? What about medical care quality?