The nation’s leading health economists joined Lehigh professors and graduate students and faculty from other Lehigh Valley colleges and universities for the 21st Annual Health Economics Conference (AHEC) in the Rauch Business Center last week.
The two-day event, sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, is one of the oldest conferences devoted to the discipline. In past years, it has been hosted by the University of Chicago and Boston University. Next year’s host will be Northwestern University.
The conference, which was attended by 40 economists, was cosponsored by the Martindale Center for the Study of Private Enterprise and the department of economics and organized by Art King and Shin-Yi Chou, professors of economics.
“The interest of the department and the Martindale Center helps the College of Business and Economics participate in one of the university’s four grand challenges for the coming decade,” said King.
“Hosting this conference associates Lehigh and our faculty with a program that is highly recognized by economists around the world. It adds to Lehigh’s reputation as an institution that pursues solutions to interesting, relevant problems.”
Recognizing, and responding to scarcity
Health economics involves the application of economic analysis to health and healthcare.
“Because economics recognizes that scarcity is a condition of human life,” King said, “the discipline provides a unique set of analytical tools to help best use the scarce resources in health care. It also examines important social questions, such as payment for health care resources and equity of health services.”
The themes of the conference were health financing reform and universal coverage. Session topics included Medicaid and Medicare, health economics theory, the pharmaceutical industry and health insurance.
Speakers presented cutting-edge research. Because the conference focused on quality of research over quantity, King said it had an unusually large impact on healthcare policy makers.
Discussion topics included such issues as the effects of recent legislation on Medicaid coverage of children, how pharmaceutical marketing affects doctors’ prescription choices, and how individual health insurance mandates influence healthcare.