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Friday, March 30, 2012

A night away from sabbatical to give a lecture on health economics and PPACA

Last night I gave a lecture on health economics and PPACA's employer mandate for the 2012 Management Institute at Roanoke College.

The Management Institute, directed by Dr. Ali Nazemi, has the following mission:
The mission of The Management InstituteSM is to provide the Roanoke Valley Business Community with a viable management education program that is timely, competitive, informative, and thereby assists in the continued educational development of middle and upper level managers. The Management Institute was developed by Roanoke College to meet the management training needs specific to the Roanoke Valley as identified by local business leaders. The Institute believes that continuous learning in today's changing environment is a critical necessity.

I had a group of about 20 students last night, all coming from a long day of work for a 6:30-9:00 pm lecture (on economics no less). They were full of smiles, chatting with each other over coffee before we started. Clearly they have developed great camaraderie over the 12 week course. Despite having close to a 12-hour day when all was said and done, they were fantastic. All were alert, asking great questions and picking up on the concept of marginal product faster than any class I have had.  RC undergraduates: watch out!

Once again, I used Prezi for this presentation. This time, since I knew that the brand new, fancy-pants Lucas Hall had reliable internet, I did not download it prior. I used the live version, although I did have my iPad with the Prezi app ready in case something went wrong. If you want a crash course in health economics and the employer mandate, check out the Prezi:

The lecture focused on modeling health via a production function, and discussing the inputs into good health, such as technology, medical care, environment, etc. We reviewed the common measures for health in this set  up (mortality rates, life expectancy and morbidity) and how to interpret the results from these production functions. For example, we could estimate the impact of stress on the incidence of heart attacks among middle-age business owners.

The second part of the lecture covered the environment surrounding PPACA ("The Health Care Bill") and the economic impact of one specific component, the employer mandate. It was a different experience to present scenarios, such as "What do you do if you have 48 full-time workers, but demand for your product is expected to grow over the coming years?" Unlike undergraduates, these students will actually have to answer these questions. Without hesitation, they answered "only hire part-time workers", "contract out work", "hire temps". All correct.

The TMI lecture was also a learning experience for me. Just like touring a hospital in Ireland and meeting with the head of a department and patients was a valuable experience for teaching about nationalized health care, talking with business owners, managers and the like was an educational experience for me for understanding the labor market in the Roanoke Valley and the potential impact of the employer mandate. The personalities, humor, smiles and intelligence of the group was an added bonus.

Thank you and good luck TMI Class of 2012,


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