The US and countries around the world are spending a substantial and rising share of income on health care. The care that is delivered today and the innovation available tomorrow are driven by public policy, private investments, and choices made by doctors and patients. With advances in medical technology, all of those decisions come with increasingly high stakes for population health and for resource allocation. Economic analysis offers a powerful lens through which to examine these issues.
The Health Economics Initiative brings together scholars from across the UChicago community to support the economic analysis of health policy and systems, including the effectiveness of public and private insurance markets, physician and patient behavior, administrative costs, and implications for labor economics. In an environment of polarized debate about major policy changes to address evolving health challenges, bringing analytically rigorous evidence to bear is crucial for better outcomes. This initiative delivers rigorous and timely research to inform stakeholders as they make tough choices in this vital sector.
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 2010-2019 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.
Research Grants for UChicago Scholars
The Health Economics Initiative regularly initiates a call for proposals to the full Chicago Economics community for innovative research ideas. We are excited to support cutting-edge research from health economists on campus through eight grants to date, and we look forward to seeing the fruits of their efforts.
Proposed Project Title: The Wage Distribution in Health Care
Proposed Project Title: The Long-Run Health Implications of Transfer-System Reform
Proposed Project Title: Encouraging Abstinence Behavior in an Opioid Epidemic: Incentivizing Inputs and Outcomes
Proposed Project Title: Predictive Analytic Models for 911 Events Involving Individuals Experiencing Behavioral Crisis
Proposed Project Title: Medical Guidelines and Doctor Behavior
Proposed Project Title: Expanding the Donor Pool for Transplantation: Incentivizing the Use of Marginal Organs
Proposed Project Title: How to Get away with Merger: Stealth Consolidation and its Effects on US Healthcare
Additional Data Resources for UChicago Faculty
This initiative supports two programs exploring distinct strands of health economics.
- The Project on Foundational Research in Health Care Markets and Policies, launched in 2016 by Tomas Philipson and directed by Casey Mulligan, strengthens the field of health economics by investing in and supporting young scholars just entering the field through fellowships for emerging scholars at the dissertation and postdoctoral stage and opportunities to collaborate.
- A new Program on Economics of Health Care Delivery, led by David O. Meltzer, which will explore issues of costs and quality in health care provision.