Assistant Professor Marcel Bilger

Assistant Professor Marcel Bilger

Health Services & Systems Research
Duke-NUS Medical School



Applying Behavioral Economic Principles To Design Health Interventions
Date: 23 September 2017, Saturday
Time: 9.30am – 11.30am
Synopsis: Health economics is mostly known for its contribution to the economic evaluation of new health technologies through cost-effectiveness analysis. This workshop will first provide participants with a broader understanding of health economics. Health economics will be presented as a theoretical framework explaining the behavior of economic agents such patients, doctors, and health insurance companies. The default position of health economics is to leave market forces solving health-related issues such as utilization of preventive care and obesity. The conditions under which markets fail to solve health-related issues will be discussed as this provides a rational for public intervention.

The main objective of this workshop is to discuss cognitive biases as a special case of market failures. Biases such as the optimism and present bias result in irrational behaviors that prevent markets from working properly. Behavioral economics will be presented as the systematic study of these biases that explain behaviors such as overeating and incompliance to medications that cannot be explained by standard economic theory alone. Beyond understanding these biases, the workshop will also identify interventions that can potentially correct the targeted behaviors.

The format of this workshop will be a lecture with active class participation through thought experiments that will illustrate standard and behavioral economic principles. The workshop will include several examples of real applications to medication adherence, weight loss, and physical activity interventions drawn from the facilitators’ research experience in applying behavioral health economics in Singapore.


1. Standard health economics at work
2. The economic rationale for public intervention
3. Cognitive biases in health economics
4. Application of behavioral economics principles to design health interventions
5. Conclusion


Assistant Professor Marcel Bilger was previously a consultant for the Development Research Group at the World Bank and a Research Fellow at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. His academic work includes publications in leading journals in health economics, health services research and medicine as well as a book on health equity and financial protection. Assistant Professor Bilger holds a PhD in econometrics and statistics from the University of Geneva with a specialisation in health economics and policy having completed the international doctoral program from the Swiss School of Public Health.

Assistant Professor Bilger’s main domains of research are health equity and financing, behavioural economics and choice modelling. His research agenda consists in determining how effective and cost-effective healthcare is, what the demand for it is, how it is financed and how equitable its utilisation is.