HP429      Half Unit
Behavioural Incentive Design in Health and Health Care

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Joan Costa-Font OLD.1.16


This course is available on the MSc in Global Health Policy, MSc in Health Policy, Planning and Financing, MSc in International Health Policy and MSc in International Health Policy (Health Economics). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

 Access to the course will be given in priority to students from the Health Department, and the course will be capped to 30.

Course content

The course covers the role of social and monetary incentives in modifying related health behaviour, and especially prevention and health care use. It will primarily draw on theoretical frameworks from several social sciences including applied microeconomics and behavioural economics, psychology, and sociology to provide an integrated framework about how to think about incentives in health and health care. The course will extend health economics teaching to cover quasi-rational behaviour and behavioural economics issues, and it will primarily focus on non-experimental evidence, although it will sometimes draw from policy and quasi-experiments. Its main purpose will be to discuss key theoretical and empirical background to guide the design of health and health care policies.

The course will focus on the following issues: Quasi-rational actor and motivation. Risk-benefit decision-making framework. Monetary and non monetary incentives.  Esteem, Stigma. Obesity and payments. Monetary Incentives, co-payment design, Social Incentives.  Reference Points. Risk preferences and perceptions. Locus of Control and Health and Health Care Behaviour. Anchoring and social cues. Taxes and Health: the role of Sin Taxes. Subsidies and Health: the role of conditional cash transfers. Myopia and Insurance Purchase: the case of long-term care insurance. Defaults and Presumed Consent. Motivation Crowding-Out and organ Donation. Information provision: risk information campaigns on food labelling, GM food. Stigma and Esteem: Smoking, Obesity. Cultural economics of health and health care: the role of traditional medicines. Body Self-Identity and Anorexia. Sleep and working time trade-off. Media, narratives and health-related behaviour. Culture, social norms: use of traditional medicine. Identity and blood donation, Food disorders. Health Inequality Aversion and Attitudes to Health Care. Behavioural incentives private and public health insurance design.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the Week 5.

The essay will have a word limit of 1500 words and the feedback from formative course work will provide the feedback for students to prepare for summative coursework, and especially to prepare for the exam.

Indicative reading

Hanoch , Y  A. Barnes and T Rice (2017) Behavioral Economics and Healthy Behaviors: Key Concepts and Current Research. Routledge.


Project (50%, 4000 words) in the MT Week 8.
Take home exam (50%) in the LT.

The project will be a group work project.

Take home assessment: Students will answer 2 questions out of 4

Key facts

Department: Health Policy

Total students 2018/19: 18

Average class size 2018/19: 9

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills