An Introduction to Health Economics

If I wasn’t doing Medicine I would be doing Economics, fact. I absolutely loved studying it for A Level, even though the initial reason I chose it was to make my mother happy, because she did it at uni and wanted me to follow in her footsteps. Soz, Abs. I spent a lot of time over the two years of A Levels justifying my choice of Economics, as a lot of people thought it didn’t fit in with Maths and Chemistry, which are your typical medicine applicant A Levels. I argued and argued that OFCOURSE it did; the government in the UK especially, have a huge influence on the NHS because they are the ones controlling the budget. The Health and Social Care Act in 2012 is an example of this influence because it’s caused a massive change in the structure of the NHS, as well as the allocation of funds.

So you can just IMAGINE how smug I was in our taster health economics lecture last week, when the lecturer emphasised how well the two went together. HA, doubters. (I wasn’t smug in a douchebag way though, more of a “Yaaaay, proof that I was right all along” way, which is okay every now and then.)

I really really enjoyed that lecture because the terminology and concepts introduced weren’t new to me. From what I’ve seen so far health economics is pretty much applying economic theories like markets, opportunity cost, moral hazard and externalities to the context of healthcare. It makes sense because the basic economic dilemma is finite resources and infinite wants, which is very applicable to healthcare because demand for services is always more than what can be supplied. There are waiting lists and not enough resources to meet the needs of consumers (patients), leading to inefficiency and market failure.

I guess what made that lecture so great was feeling confident in what I know for once. The gaps in my knowledge from not doing A Level Biology always make me feel like I’m playing catch up with everyone else. I know I’m not the only one who didn’t do A Level Biology, but I’m still self conscious and this makes me hesitate in answering questions in PBL sessions and workshops, regretting my cowardice when the correct answers are revealed and I’m like, “I knew that!!!!” So basically, I need to back myself more and be more confident when it comes to Biology. I can do it! *insert inspirational music here*

Anyways as nerdy as this might sound, I’m so so interested in the health economics aspect of medicine, and can’t wait to learn more about it over the next couple of years. Economics and medicine DO go together, so the world has not seen the last of Tai the economist…

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