Health economics researchers recognised for excellence

Researchers from Monash Business School's Department of Economics and Centre for Health Economics have been awarded for their excellence at the annual Australian Health Economics Society (AHES) Conference.

 Youjin Hahn

Dr Youjin Hahn and Professor James P. Smith of the RAND Corporation

The annual event was held in Brisbane this year from 1–2 October, with three Monash researchers receiving recognition for their research papers.

Dr Youjin Hahn, Department of Economics, took home the Australian Health Economics Society Research Prize for her research paper entitled 'The effect of Medicaid physician fees on take-up of public health insurance among children in poverty', published in the Journal of Health Economics in 2013. The prize is only conferred once every two years and was unanimously awarded to Dr Hahn by an international panel of judges.

"I am honoured and pleased to have received this award," Dr Hanh said.

Dr Hahn's research is focussed on Medicaid, a public health insurance for Americans with limited income and resources. Earlier research suggests that the low level of Medicaid payments makes physicians less willing to see Medicaid patients, creating an issue of access to care.

"Using variation in the timing of the changes in Medicaid payments across states, I found that increasing Medicaid generosity is associated with both an increase in take-up and a reduction in uninsured rate," Dr Hahn said.

"These results provide a partial answer to the puzzling question of why many low-income children who are eligible for Medicaid remain uninsured."

Also recognised were Dr Nicole Black and Dr Sonja Kassenboehmer, Centre for Health Economics for their paper 'The effect of childhood obesity on socioemotional difficulties'. The award was presented by an early career researcher. Dr Black and Dr Kassenboehmer said they were pleased to receive the award.

"I feel very strongly about this research as it combines two important areas of child health and development that Sonja and I are passionate about," Dr Black said.

"Given the prevalence of obesity and the importance of socioemotional skills in determining the future wellbeing and economic success of children, I believe our research provides new evidence that can help reduce health and socioeconomic inequalities associated with childhood obesity."

The aim of AHES is to promote study, practice and development of the field of health economics in Australia, and the role of health economics analysis in informing policy and health practice in Australia and internationally. Find out more about AHES and the conference on its website.

This article also appeared in Monash Memo.