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Pre-congress Sessions


Innovative methods for evaluating access to medicine programs in low- and middle-income countries

Friday July 7th; 8:30-12:00

Improving access to medicines in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) has been recognized as a key health challenge by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Access to Medicines (AtM) programs in LMICs have grown rapidly in number in recent years as countries move towards Universal Health Coverage. However, few AtM programs have been rigorously evaluated and little is currently known about their impact. Collaboration among researchers, industry, and the global health community is needed to develop innovative metrics and methods for evaluating the impacts of AtM programs.

The aim of this pre-congress session is to bring together researchers and practitioners working on access to medicines issues in LMICs to discuss innovative metrics and methods for evaluating AtM programs.  It will include an initial keynote presentation and several shorter presentations, selected from an open call for abstracts, accompanied by feedback from a nominated discussants.  Key topics for this session include: indicators for measuring access to medicines; methods for evaluating the impacts of AtM initiatives; and empirical research on access to medicines from LMICs.

If you would like to submit an abstract for this pre-congress workshop, please click here.


The Affordable Care Act past, present and future: Tense

Friday July 7th; 13:30-17:00

This organized session will discuss US national health care policy, recent reforms, and recent new directions and will feature three sets of panel speakers. The focal point for the discussion is the US Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as ObamaCare. which passed in 2010, with the key implementation in 2014 of its Health Insurance Marketplace that promotes universal health insurance coverage. The incoming administration has indicated that it hopes to repeal, replace or amend the ACA, so the future of the ACA is highly uncertain. The first panel will speak primarily about the background and rationale for key features of the ACA (its PAST). The second panel will focus on the PRESENT: what the ACA has achieved including enrollments, premiums, cost trends, and health care outcome measures.  The third panel will focus on the FUTURE of the ACA: what has currently been proposed or enacted by the new administration, likely effects, and proposals for the future.  Randall Ellis of Boston University is organizing and chairing the session. Currently four panel participants (from BU, Harvard, MIT and a current federal agency) have agreed to participate, and include proponents of both the ACA and of a voucher system.  Further panelists will be invited once the new administration’s health economics advisors are known. There will be time for questions from the audience.


Universal health coverage in low- and middle-income countries: What, how and why?

Friday July 7th; 8:30-17:00

Universal health coverage (UHC) has captured global attention. However, in low- and middle-income countries where resources are limited and where competing demands exist, UHC remains an elusive concept. For example, what does “UHC” mean at $30 or $50 per capita total health expenditure? How has the world discourse moved from UHC as all health care needed to “basic” or “essential” health care? Where do the synergies and tradeoffs between health outcome and financial protection lie? How to improve effective and efficient use of limited resources? What strategies have worked or not worked and why, and to what extent are they scalable?

The primary goal of this one-day pre-congress session is to bring together researchers and practitioners to discuss and debate critical issues surrounding achieving UHC in the low- and middle-income settings. There will be four sessions, each includes a main presentation, two commentaries and ample time for discussions, with the goal to generate debates. Session one addresses the question, “what does UHC mean in low- and middle-income country settings?” drawing on economic concepts, relevant ethical principles and country examples. Sessions two to four examine strategies for improving efficient and effective use of resources, including the pros and cons of a national health service versus a national health insurance system, strategic purchasing, priority setting, drawing on economic principles, the political economy of implementation and empirical evidence and experiences from different countries.

This pre-congress session will take place at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. 


Capacity development in applied vaccine economics

Friday July 7th; 13:30-17:00 and Saturday July 8th; 8:30-17:00

The aim of this one and a half day training workshop is capacity development in applied vaccine economics, finance and cost-effectiveness.  The workshop would be helpful for global health economics students and early career researchers as well as Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) managers, National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups (NiTAG) and immunization inter-agency coordination committee members, and Ministry of Health officials. The development of the session’s course work and provision of the training session is receiving support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The training workshop will cover 10 main topics: 1) Introduction to vaccine economics, 2) collecting cost data, 3) using cost data for policy, 4) modeling vaccine related outcomes, 5) modeling delivery costs, 6) benefits of vaccines, 7) cost-benefit studies, 8) cost-minimization studies, 9) cost-effectiveness studies and 10) how to make vaccine economics more useful for policy.


Behavioral economics and physician behavior

Saturday July 8th; 8:30-17:00

Physicians are key decision makers in nearly all aspects of health care and thus an important point of leverage for reducing practice variation, low value care, costs, and improving the quality of care provided.  Moreover, it is increasingly recognized that an understanding of behavioral psychology is essential to the effective design of non-financial and financial interventions to influence physician practice patterns and understand heterogeneity in physicians' responses to these interventions. Though economists have focused on the role of financial incentives and regulation, there is also a large literature in health services research, behavioral psychology, and implementation science examining the role of information feedback, peer influence, and educational interventions built upon a range of psychological theories of behavior change.

The aim of this workshop is to promote discussion of recent advances and potential future applications of behavioral economics to physician decision making, ranging from clinical choices to labor supply, career, and geographic location. The focus will be on blending insights from psychology with microeconomics and experiments. This workshop will include the presentation of 7 papers, selected from an open call for abstracts; each paper will be presented in detail followed by feedback from a nominated discussant. There will also be a plenary panel discussion.

If you would like to submit an abstract for this pre-congress workshop, please click here.


Frontiers of health economics research in Latin America

Saturday July 8th; 8:30-17:00

The aim of this pre-congress workshop is to contribute to building a community of practice of academic health economists that could promote quality health economics research in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and contribute towards stronger health care systems in this region. The workshop is not only targeted at those currently undertaking health economics research in LAC but also others from the international academic community whose research could permeate LAC health issues or who may develop an interest in research in LAC if exposed to the region’s issues.

The workshop will include 2 keynote presentations and 8 shorter presentations, the latter being selected from an open call for abstracts.  It will include both theoretical and empirical contributions and focus on a range of health system issues such as health care financing, provider competition, mixed private-public health care systems, market regulation and incentives, human resources, high cost drugs, health promotion and prevention, specific services (e.g. mental health, long term care), and policy evaluation and assessment.

Submission for this session is now closed! 


Teaching health economics

Saturday July 8th; 8:30-17:00

Health economics is a relative newcomer to the economics discipline and economics pedagogy. Microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics have served as foundations of economics curricula for over fifty years, and public finance, international economics, and industrial organization date back even further. Many university economics departments have only recently instituted health economics courses, and at many universities health economics courses reside outside of economics departments, in schools of public health, business, or nursing. Starting with the 2011 Toronto meetings, iHEA has led efforts to present, share, and disseminate path-breaking methods and research on teaching health economics.

This pre-congress workshop seeks to bring together teachers of health economics to share their methods and resources (including teaching methods, data archives, research on teaching efficacy) with colleagues. We would hope that current and would-be health economics instructors could leave with enhanced “tool-boxes” for teaching and learning health economics.

Presentations during the workshop are being selected from an open call for abstracts and will be centered on four major topics related to the teaching of health economics: (1) Traditional Economics Courses; (2) Courses and Activities Outside of Economics Settings (very broadly defined to include short courses, and training sessions); (3) Distance Learning Activities; (4) International Activities and Settings. Distance learning has engendered considerable discussion recently, and it is anticipated that there will be a particular focus on innovative methods, best practices, and serious challenges in this format.

Submission for this session is now closed!


Revolution in social protection or stagnation at scale? Indonesia’s Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional Insurance Program after three years

Saturday July 8th; 8:30-12:00

Even before it launched its single-payer national health insurance system Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional (JKN) in 2014, Indonesia had achieved insurance coverage above 50% of the population, albeit with fragmented schemes across the formal sector and with an additional scheme targeting the poor.  In this session, Indonesian health financing practitioners, policymakers and experts will review evidence on whether or not JKN has increased access and utilization among the poor and the informal sector, enhanced social protection, and improved the efficiency and effectiveness of how healthcare is purchased.  Specific issues that will be considered include: identifying and targeting the poor and informal sector workers; benefits and challenges of a unified database of the poor for health and other social programs; protection of the poor from out-of-pocket spending; effect of capitation and paying for performance on primary healthcare; and appropriate reimbursement rates for private and public providers.

The session will include several presentations, panel discussions and opportunities for participant engagement.


New insights into the economics of substance use disorder treatment: Addressing the opioid epidemic

Saturday July 8th; 13:30-17:00

The session will feature methodologic and applied components, drawing on ongoing work by researchers affiliated with the Center for Health Economics of Treatment Interventions for Substance Use Disorder, HCV, and HIV (CHERISH). One aim of this session is to discuss evolving methods in economic evaluation of substance use disorders (SUD) in response to the recently released recommendations of the Second Panel on Cost Effectiveness in Health and Medicine.  Two of the key recommendations of the panel that will be explored, and their application illustrated by recent CHERISH work, are:

· a broadening of the analytic perspective for cost-effectiveness analyses to include intervention impacts outside of the health sector, such as the significant savings that can be realized by the criminal justice and social services sectors when a SUD intervention is successful, which requires monetary conversion factors to translate units of outcome into dollars; and

· accounting for the quality of life impact of disease health states on family members.

A second aim of this session is to present findings from applied studies of the economic impact of interventions for opioid use disorders, which have reached epidemic status in the United States and are a growing concern internationally.  Interim and final results from recent studies of medication assisted treatment in response to the opioid crisis and evaluations of integrating HCV and HIV testing in these settings will be presented. Methodological approaches and challenges encountered in these studies will also be explored. The session will be structured to promote interactive discussion of new frontiers in health economics research methods, findings, and identifying new high priority areas for health economics research relating to substance use disorders.

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The International Health Economics Association was formed to increase communication among health economists, foster a higher standard of debate in the application of economics to health and health care systems, and assist young researchers at the start of their careers.

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