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Health Economics The Master of Commerce by coursework and research report in the field of Health Economics aims to train economists in the application of economic theory to the study of health and health care. Not offered in 2023.
Health Economics The Master of Commerce by coursework and research report in the field of Health Economics aims to train economists in the application of economic theory to the study of health and health care. Not offered in 2023.

Qualification: MCom

Faculty: Commerce, Law and Management

Duration: 1 - 2 years

School: Economics and Finance

Study mode: Full-time; Part-time


Why Health Economics?

The health sector commands a substantial share of the economy’s resources and health is an important public policy issue. Health economists, however, are in short supply. A qualification in this field offers employment opportunities in both the public and private sectors.

As South Africa embarks on the road to national health insurance, there has never been a greater need for economic analysis and evaluations of national planning and decision making in the public and private health care sectors. While health economists have performed an essential role in health policy decisions abroad, there is still a shortage of health economics expertise in South Africa and Africa.

There is a growing need and demand therefore for health economists, even more so in the context of the short- and longer-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that will play out in South Africa and beyond in the coming years. This scenario also presents health economists with the opportunity and responsibility to contribute to the task of re-engineering the post-COVID-19 health system.

Health economists are employed in the private and public healthcare sectors and by universities and research agencies and consulting firms across the country and the globe. The skills you would acquire would also afford you the ability to work as a freelance consultant on a project basis, especially in the field of economic evaluations.

This coursework Masters programme is structured as a one-year full-time or a two-year part-time qualification. The programme comprises a research report together with a total of six courses, including five compulsory courses and one elective.

Compulsory courses:

Introduction to Health Economics:

The module provides the candidate with an in-depth understanding of the demand for and supply of health, healthcare and health insurance. Market failures, however, are a common feature of healthcare markets. Health care financing systems, moreover, play a key role in the production and consumption of healthcare. A healthy population furthermore is central to the achievement of development. Knowledge on these four key themes represent the core foundation of the study of the Economics of health and health care and is critical in the appraisal of health systems [15 credits]

Further Topics in Health Economics:

The module builds on the introductory course by providing an in-depth exposition of additional topics in the study of the economics of health and healthcare. The module introduces the candidate to the study of health inequalities and technical efficiency in the delivery of health care. The module also provides the candidate with an introduction to behavioural and experimental economic perspectives on health and health care, which is critical in addressing the shortcomings of mainstream perspectives on the economics of health and healthcare [15 credits].

Economic and Programme Evaluation in Health:

One main task of health economists is to conduct economic and impact analysis of health issues, health care interventions and health policies. Four standard tools employed for this purpose are cost-of-illness studies, cost-effectiveness analysis, cost-benefit analysis, and programme evaluation. This module introduces the candidate to these analytical methodologies, using appropriate examples to illustrate their application, interpretation and policy relevance [15 credits].

Research Report in Health Economics:

This module represents the prescribed research component of the Master of Commerce in the field of Health Economics. The module requires the candidate to identify a suitable research topic in the domain of Health Economics and to develop a research proposal with the support of a dedicated supervisor(s). Based on this research proposal, the candidate is required to undertake an independent piece of Health Economics research that makes a contribution to the field of study [90 credits].

In addition, the candidate must complete one of the following courses:

Applied Econometrics*; Introduction to Applied Econometrics* [15 credits each].

* Only candidates with no prior post-graduate training in Econometrics may enroll for the Introduction to Applied Econometrics course (ECON7XXXA). Candidates with prior post-graduate training in Econometrics at the Honours or equivalent level must enroll for the Applied Econometrics course (ECON7037A).

In addition, candidates choose one module from among the following electives:

Economics of Competition and Regulation; Development; Microeconomics A; Gender Economics; Growth, Advanced Institutional Economics; Public Economics; Environmental Economics and Policy; Discrete Choice Modelling [15 credits].

A Bachelor's degree with honours in Economics or a Bachelor's degree with honours in a related field with undergraduate training in Statistics, Mathematics or Economics. Candidates are required to have achieved an average mark of 65% or above in their honours degree or equivalent qualification.

If you do not have an Honours degree in Economics but are interested in studying Health Economics at Wits University, you could consider the Health Economics specialisation in the Master in Public Health (MPH) programme.

Not offered in 2023
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