Explore A Career As A Health Economist

July 4, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Health economics is a rapidly growing field that links up health care with business. Those who choose to work in this specialty typically have a unique passion for applying their knowledge of economics to find solutions to several ongoing and upcoming challenges in health and medicine. As the population continues to grow, there is an increasing demand for quality health care that is also cost-effective. This demand is met by health economists who are vital to sustaining our health care system.

A student taking a patient's blood pressure in a Tanzanian hospital. What is a Health Economist?

A health economist is a professional who investigates how the country’s resources are used in health care. They focus on the distribution of resources and the maintenance of occupational health in the health care system. These specialists may work in public health care or they may be employed by privately owned companies. Health economists use their knowledge and skills to scrutinise health care, assess health care policies and resolve the numerous challenges that arise in the health care field.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for health economists is excellent right now. This is due in part to the diverse range of opportunities that are available in hospitals, health insurance corporations, universities, governmental bodies, academia and research, pharmaceutical companies and international organisations. With so many environments to choose from, it’s easier than ever for skilled and trained health economists to find an area that is best suited for them.

Working at the Government Level

There are several opportunities for qualified health economists to work in the government sector, where they investigate and evaluate health care policies and monitor the quality and cost effectiveness of existing procedures and regulations. They also assess medical benefits and applications for specific products and services and ensure that proper health care can be sustained and that it is operating within a safe and efficient framework.

Working in the Private Industry

In the private sector, these specialists work with biotechnology companies and private health insurance companies, amongst others. They help maximise the company’s profits by exploring more efficient ways to increase exposure and profit from marketing.

Health Economists as Consultants

As a consultant, you would provide consulting as well as forecasting in health economics. This is a highly analytical role that aims to improve existing structures to pave the way for future successes. You could also choose to work at the international level, examining and analysing macroeconomic regulations and how they affect different countries.

Working in the Research Sector

Health economists play a key role in the research sector, where their involvement usually includes analysing data for clinical trials relating to costs and health care infrastructure. Another important research area involves collecting data on how health care services are applied and used at all levels of healthcare.

Education & Training Requirements

At the very minimum, you would have to complete an undergraduate degree in economics. However, given the high competition in the field, a graduate degree is highly recommended. Salaries in this specialty vary widely depending on the sector, years of experience and level of seniority but in general, this field offers some of the highest salaries in health care, sometimes exceeding that of physicians.

If you have an analytical mind and a strength for investigation and logic along with a deep interest and care for improving the health of the public, then a career in health economics can be as exciting as it is rewarding.