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Empirical Research in Health Policy

Health policy involves many important and politically divisive issues that involve the interaction between legal and regulatory policy, our system of health care delivery, and economics. For example, how many people file for bankruptcy because they are uninsured and have large medical bills? How many people die or suffer disability because they don't have health insurance? Does a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits attract physicians to a state? Does such a cap reduce "defensive medicine" and thus overall healthcare spending? Do nonprofit hospitals behave differently than for-profit hospitals and if so, how? Empirical research can cast light on these issues. This seminar will explore the empirical evidence and research methods used to examine these and other important questions in health law and policy. The course will begin with basic concepts and research designs commonly used in quantitative research on law and public policy, to provide students with an introduction to the tools needed to understand and evaluate empirical research. These research strategies are general in nature - they are not limited to health policy research. We will then consider empirical studies of health insurance, medical bankruptcy, medical malpractice reforms, hospital ownership, and competition in healthcare markets. The strengths and weaknesses of the empirical methods used in each study will be closely examined. Registration Requirements: None. Prior class experiences in statistics, economics, or other quantitative social sciences would be helpful, but is not required. Evaluation Method: Final grades for the course will be determined based on class participation, presentation, and a final paper. Students are required to submit the paper by the end of the final exam period. For most students, the final paper will take the form of a critical review of prior studies on a particular issue in health policy, focusing on the methods and research design. Original empirical research papers are acceptable and encouraged - but more difficult to carry out. Students who want to prepare their own research paper should contact the instructor early in the semester to discuss their proposed topic. Class Materials: Hyman, David A. (2006), Medicare Meets Mephistopheles, Cato Institute, ISBN: 1930865929. Baker, Tom (2005), The Medical Malpractice Myth, University of Chicago Press, ISBN: 0226036480. Other readings will be journal articles and research reports, to be distributed. Suggested Class Materials: Suggested readings, if any, will be journal articles and research reports, to be distributed.


Catalog Number: LAWSTUDY 697


Course History

Spring 2014
Title: Empirical Research in Health Policy
Faculty: Paik, Myungho
Section: 1     Credits: 2.0
Capacity: 25     Actual: 2