Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLHLTH 719 - Health Economics

15 Points 

Semester 2



Fundamental economic concepts and their application to healthcare. Provides students with some analytical skills with which to address issues and problems in the funding and organisation of health services.

Programme and course advice

This course is recommended for the following pathways in the public health programme:

  • Health Services Management and Health Services Research

It is also a recommended course for the Masters of Health Leadership programme, and is a required course for the Health Management specialisation. It is a required course for students on the Postgraduate Diploma in Business in Health Management.

It is an optional course for the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) programme.

Course aims

Content Outline

The course is divided in four broad sections as follows

1. Some basic concepts

  • Demand for health and health services
  • The supply of health care
  • The market model

2. Markets and health care

  • Sources of market failure
  • Supplier-induced demand
  • The role of governments

3. Financing health services

  • Raising the funds
  • Private health insurance
  • User charges
  • Paying providers

4. Evaluating health services

  • What is economic evaluation?
  • Measuring health outcomes
  • How to undertake an economic evaluation

Goals of the course

The general objective of this course is to provide students with an understanding of some fundamental economic concepts and principles, and the ability to apply those concepts and principles to issues and problems that health care decision makers face on a day to day basis.

Learning outcomes 

After completing this course, students should:

  • Understand the meaning of basic economic concepts and be able to apply them to issues and problems in the health sector
  • Have a working knowledge of the market model and its associated incentives, and appreciate how this framework can be used to analyse the behaviour of different actors within the health system
  • Understand the incentives associated with different methods of funding and appreciate how these can influence health service outcomes
  • Understand the basic tools of economic evaluation of health services, including utility-based measures of health outcomes 


  • Two assignments each 30%
  • Final two hour written examination 40%

The Semester 2 examination period is Thursday 25 October– Monday 12 November. Note that the examination timetables are not finalised and available to students until 6-8 weeks into the semester.


Learning and teaching

The course occupies four full days spaced at monthly intervals at the School of Population Health at Grafton Campus. Teaching of the course reflects the view that effective learning occurs when students are active participants rather than passive observers. The approach combines lectures, case studies, and discussions drawing on the experience of students. Small group sessions are used to carry out specific exercises and for discussion purposes.

Campus Teaching Dates 

This course is held at Grafton Campus. Please see your timetable on SSO for the room details.

Learning Resources 

Students are provided access to online course pages that set out the course programme in detail. These pages will provide an overview of the course, assessments, teaching content, required, recommended readings and resources.

The prescribed text for the course is:

Guinness, D., & Wiseman, V. (2011). Introduction to health economics. (2nd ed) Berkshire: Open University Press

Course Coordinator

Course Administrator