Health Economics

Foundational Research on Health Care Markets and Policies

Health Economics Initiative

Faculty Directors  

Katherine Baicker, Dean and Emmett Dedmon Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy

Neale Mahoney, Professor of Economics and David G. Booth Faculty Fellow, Booth School of Business


In an era of rising health care costs, an aging population, emerging global health threats, and evolving insurance markets and regulatory environments, the questions of how we provide and pay for health care—and improve health—are critical. The Becker Friedman Institute’s Health Economics Initiative aims to develop and support the advancement of fundamental economic research on such questions.

Medical and public health research are at the forefront of efforts to improve health care delivery and effectiveness. What sets this initiative apart is its primary focus on applying the tools of economic analysis to understand the basic forces—supply and demand, incentives, labor trends, and investments in human capital, for example—that influence health care policies and the systems in which they are implemented.

Specifically, this initiative supports three programs exploring distinct strands of health economics:

Affiliated Scholars

Peter Ganong, Assistant Professor, Harris School of Public Policy

David Meltzer, Professor in the Department of Medicine, and affiliated faculty at the Harris School of Public Policy and the Department of Economics; Chief of the Section of Hospital Medicine, Director of the Center for Health and the Social Sciences, and Chair of the Committee on Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Chicago

Casey Mulligan, Professor in Economics and the College

Prachi Sanghavi, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Studies

Brad Shapiro, Assistant Professor of Marketing and Beatrice Foods Co. Faculty Scholar, Booth School of Business

Pietro Tebaldi, Assistant Professor in Economics and the College


The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, Katherine Baicker and Amy Finkelstein

Do Larger Health Insurance Subsidies Benefit Patients or Producers? Evidence from Medicare Advantage, Marika Cabral, Michael Geruso, Neale Mahoney

How Do Individuals Repay Their Debt? The Balance-Matching Heuristic, John Gathergood, Neale Mahoney, Neil Stewart, Jörg Weber

Bad Credit, No Problem? Credit and Labor Market Consequences of Bad Credit Reports, Will Dobbie, Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham, Neale Mahoney, Jae Song

What Does (Formal) Health Insurance Do, and For Whom?, Amy Finkelstein, Neale Mahoney, Matthew J. Notowidigdo

Provider Incentives and Healthcare Costs: Evidence from Long-Term Care Hospitals, Liran Einav, Amy Finkelstein, Neale Mahoney

Pricing Regulations in Individual Health Insurance: Evidence from Medigap, Vilsa Curto

Pricing Regulations in Individual Health Insurance: Evidence from Medigap, Anh Nguyen

What Are Consumers Willing to Pay for a Broad Network Health Plan?: Evidence from Covered California, Coleman Drake

Promoting Wellness or Waste? Evidence from Antidepressant Advertising, Bradley Shapiro

A Model of Addiction and Social Interactions, Julian Reif

The Fragility of Market Risk Insurance, Ralph S.J. Koijen, Motohiro Yogo

The Employer Penalty, Voluntary Compliance, and the Size Distribution of Firms: Evidence from a Survey of Small Businesses, Casey Mulligan

Nudges in Exercise Commitment Contracts: A Randomized Trial, Jay Bhattacharya, Alan M. Garber, Jeremy D. Goldhaber-Fiebert

Impacts of performance pay for hospitals: The Readmissions Reduction Program, Atul Gupta

Medicaid and Financial Health, Kenneth Brevoort, Daniel Grodzicki, Martin B. Hackmann

Equilibrium Provider Networks: Bargaining Exclusion in Health Care Markets, Kate Ho, Robin Lee

The Economics of Patient-Centered Care, Guy David, Philip Saynisch, Aaron Smith-McLallen

Endogenous Productivity of Demand-Induced R&D: Evidence from Pharmaceuticals, Mark Pauly, Kyle Meyers

Adjusting Measures of Economic Output for Health: Is the Business Cycle Countercyclical?, Mark Egan, Casey Mulligan, Tomas Philipson

Estimating Equilibrium in Health Insurance Exchanges: Price Competition and Subsidy Design under the ACA, Pietro Tebaldi

Wedges, Labor Market Behavior, and Health Insurance Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act, Trevor S. Gallen and Casey B. Mulligan

Regulated Age-based Pricing in Subsidized Health Insurance: Evidence from the Affordable Care Act, Pietro Tebaldi, Joe Orsini

Cost of Service Regulation in U.S. Health Care: Minimal Medical Loss Ratios, Steve Cicala, Ethan M.J. Lieber, Victoria Marone

Sharing R&D Risk in Healthcare via FDA Hedges, Adam Jørring, Andrew W. Lo, Tomas Philipson, Manita Singh, Richard Thakor

How Does Technological Change Affect Quality-Adjusted Prices in Health Care? Systematic Evidence from Thousands of Innovations, Kristopher Hult, Sonia Jaffe, Tomas Philipson

Is the focus on food deserts fruitless? Retail access and food purchases across the socioeconomic spectrum, Molly Schnell, Jessie Handbury, Ilya Rahkovsky

Analyzing the Effects of Insuring Health Risks, Harold L. Cole, Soojin Kim, and Dirk Krueger

The Upside-down Economics of Regulated and Otherwise Rigid Prices, Casey Mulligan, Kevin Tsui

Health Care Adherence and Personalized Medicine, Mark Egan, Tomas Philipson

The Unaccounted Insurance Value of Medical Innovation, Anushree Subramaniam

Labor Markets in Statistics: The Subject Supply Effect in Medical R&D, Anup Malani, Tomas Philipson

The Price Ain’t Right? Hospital Prices and Health Spending on the Privately Insured, Zack Cooper, Stuart Craig, Martin Gaynor, and John Van Reenen


Data Assets 

Medical claims data is at the core of much of health economics research. The Health Economics Initiative is building data assets to help lower the barriers to research in this area for faculty and students across the university. 

In 2018, we made our first purchase of Medicare claims data. The data covers 2010-2016 and includes the MedPAR, outpatient, home health, and master beneficiary summary files for 100% of Medicare beneficiaries. We plan to add additional files and years to increase the value of this data asset. 

The data is hosted in a secure environment provided by the Center for Research Informatics (CRI) together with additional resources and procedures developed by the MWG in collaboration with the Research Computing Group (RCG) within the Department of Public Health Sciences.

The contract is being finalized and the data will be transferred in the coming months. We will make an announcement when the data are available.