autumn 2021
HEL-3007 Health Economics and Policy - 10 ECTS

Last changed 10.05.2021

Application deadline

Applicants from Nordic countries: 1 June

Applicants from outside the Nordic countries: 15 April

Type of course

This course is mandatory for students at the Master's degree programme in Public Health. Course students may be admitted if total number of students do not exceed the regulated 30 number of students at the course.

Admission requirements

Admission criteria: The same as for the Master's programme in Public Health. See the programme page. Application Code: 9371 (Nordic applicants).

Course overlap

HEL-3607 Health Management, Economics and Policy 5 stp

Course content

The course gives an introduction to key issues in health economics and policy. The first part explores the concepts of efficiency and equity, and explains how the assumptions of a perfect market are violated in healthcare. By applying basic price theory, we discuss how taxes and subsidies can affect our health related behaviour.

The second part deals with healthcare finance, where we distinguish between the alternative sources of funding, and the different ways of paying providers. We analyze private health insurance, taxation, patient payments, with an emphasis on efficiency and equity aspects. We discuss alternative ways of paying general practitioners and hospitals, exploring the arguments for activity based financing and other incentive mechanisms.

The third part of the course explains methodologies of health economic evaluation, such as cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses. Various ways of measuring health outcomes is discussed with particular emphasis on quality adjusted life years (QALYs). Finally, we discuss some priority relevant issues beyond costs and health outcomes.

Objectives of the course

Knowledge and understanding:

  • understand the concepts of efficiency and equity, and explain the key characteristics of the healthcare market
  • understand alternative sources of health care finance, and the various payment systems for hospitals and primary care physicians
  • understand the methodologies of economic evaluation in healthcare, including how to measure health outcomes in terms of quality adjusted life years (QALYs).

Skills and competences

  • Analyze how taxes and subsidies can affect the demand for (un)healthy goods.
  • Analyze incentive mechanisms in the payment systems used for healthcare providers
  • Compare costs vs outcomes, and communicate the logic of an economic evaluation

General Proficiency

  • Apply prize theory to analyze elasticities in demand for (un)healthy goods and healthcare services
  • Apply insights from theories of insurance and voluntary redistribution to explain why patients in many countries face free healthcare
  • Communicate how health economic models can be applied to assist decisions on healthcare priority setting

Language of instruction


Teaching methods

The course will require presence on campus during three teaching periods of five days each. Consisting of lectures, seminars and group work. Attendance to the on-campus teaching is mandatory. All teaching will be given in English. 


Voluntary: An individual home assignment between the second and the third teaching period. Verbal feedback from the teacher including an indication of the grade the essay would have got if it were an exam situation. The assignments may be written in English, Norwegian, Swedish or Danish. Students are encouraged to give a brief plenary presentation of how the healthcare system in their home country (or another country) is organized and financed.

Obligatory: Plenary presentation (30 minutes duration) of a group work on a chosen topic (2-4 students per group) to be presented on the second and third teaching week. The teacher will provide a list of topics to choose from. The presentations will be uploaded to the online learning management system after been accepted. Presentations must be given in English. All students have to participate in a group work in order to register for the exam.

Written school exam: The grade for the course is based upon a one day written school examination (six hours) early December. The exam may be answered in English, Norwegian, Swedish or Danish. Grading scale for the exam: A-E equals passed, F equals failed.

If a student fails the course, an examination re-sit will be organised. Students with valid absence from the exam will be offered a re-scheduled examination. See examination regulations.


  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: HEL-3007