Summer 2019 - HSCI 306 D100

Principles of Health Economics (3)

Class Number: 2598

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    AQ 3154, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 16, 2019
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
    BLU 9660, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Two HSCI 200-level courses, one of which may be taken concurrently.



Students will gain an introductory understanding of the theories and concepts that underpin economics, and be able to demonstrate how these can be applied to provide insights for health policy, health care decision making and health technology assessment.


COURSE DESCRIPTION: Health care systems throughout the world are faced with rising costs and increasing demands. It is perhaps inevitable that there is a consequent tendency to turn to the discipline of economics for help. Much of the interest in this discipline arises from a belief that economics is about economizing, about saving money. This is inaccurate. Economics is about the use of scarce resources in an efficient and equitable way. This course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive but accessible introduction to economic principles and applications.

OVERALL GOAL: The aim of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the theories and concepts that underpin economics and demonstrate how these can be applied to provide insights for health policy and health care decision-making.

TEACHING FORMAT: Over the course of the semester, the three hours of weekly class time will include combinations of conventional seminar presentations, class discussions and group activities. Seminar presentations will be used to introduce key themes and represent a starting point for students to engage in self-directed study.


CORE COMPETENCIES IN FHS CURRICULA: The study of economics as applied to health and health care is likely to be new to all FHS students. This does not make the course a ‘bad fit’ for the faculty – quite the opposite. The application of simple economic principles provides very useful insight for decision-making in all areas of health care (such as clinical practice, public health, commissioning health services, etc.).

EXPECTED OUTCOMES: No prior knowledge of economics is necessary. On completion of the course, students should be able to demonstrate how the application of economic principles in the context of health and health care can help to address inefficiencies in health service delivery. Students will demonstrate their competency with the course material through two midterm assessments and a final assignment, as well as during class participation.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
1. Define fundamental economic concepts
2. Articulate these fundamental concepts in health and non-health contexts
3. State and explain potential reasons for market failure in health care
4. Apply economic reasoning to debate whether governments should regulate health care
5. Contrast different economics evaluation study designs
6. Critique economic evaluation literature regarding applied economic analyses, current areas of academic debate, and methodological challenges


  • Midterm #1 ('take home' assignment) 20%
  • Midterm #2 ('take home' assignment) 40%
  • Final Exam 40%


If you cannot write the final examination or meet an assignment deadline due to medical reasons, you must contact me before the exam/deadline (email, telephone, or in person). Medical justifications will require a completed Health Care Provider Statement form ( If you are allowed to make up for a missed exam or midterm, the assessment method could comprise any format.

I will review non-medical extenuating circumstances on an individual basis:

  • If there is a family problem that you must attend to, I require a written explanation of the reason for your absence, and some means of verification
  • If you need an alternate date to submit a midterm assignment, or sit the final exam, in order to observe a holy day for your religion, you must provide a written request during the first week of class
  • I will not accept ‘Public Transit’ excuses unless conditions are exceptionally severe
  • All students should be aware of the dates for the summer semester examination period. I do not expect any students to be away for the final exam. If you know you are going to be away for the final exam, contact me about it as early as possible



Throughout the course, links to online peer-reviewed articles will be provided through Canvas. There is no single required textbook for the entire course; for weeks 1-8, material will draw from the following text:

Hurley JE. Health Economics. 2018
NOTE: prior to 2018, this book was published by McGraw-Hill Ryerson (2010). Students can now purchase the eBook through Campus eBookstore ( by clicking Shop and then selecting eBooks
ISBN: 9780666386199


Drummond MF, Sculpher MJ, Claxton K, Stoddart GL, Torrance GW. Methods for the Economic Evaluation of Healthcare Programmes. 4th Ed. Oxford University Press; 2015
NOTE: this is the best, single textbook for weeks 9-13 (i.e., the topic of economic evaluation). Copies of this textbook will be on reserve in the library

The following book is also a very accessible introduction to important issues in health economics. It is a recommendation only and will not feature in the course reading list.
Donaldson C. Credit Crunch Health Care: How economics can save our publicly-funded health services. The Policy Press; 2011

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.