Categories: News, Newsletter Issue 2023:1

The Ins and Outs of IHEA: A Q&A with John Cawley

By Brandyn Churchill

John Cawley is a Professor in the Department of Economics and the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. He is also on the Board of Directors of the International Health Economics Association (IHEA) and spoke to Brandyn Churchill about what IHEA can offer to ASHEcon members.

  1. How does IHEA differ from ASHEcon?

IHEA and ASHEcon have similar missions, but on a different geographic scale.  Both organizations foster an inclusive community of health economists, aid the professional development of health economists at all levels, promote high-quality research and teaching in health economics, and organize research conferences.  IHEA has that mission for the world, and ASHEcon for the U.S. As a result, one can derive different benefits from the two organizations. For example, someone studying the U.S. Medicaid program might go to the ASHEcon conference to meet and learn from other researchers studying the U.S. Medicaid program specifically, and go to the IHEA Congress to meet and learn from researchers studying other public health insurance programs outside the U.S. There are some minor differences, such as ASHEcon has an official journal (the American Journal of Health Economics) whereas IHEA does not, and the ASHEcon conference is annual whereas the IHEA World Congress is every other year, but there are a lot more similarities than differences. For example, both offer repositories of teaching materials; here are the ones for ASHEcon and IHEA organizations also offer mentorship programs for junior scholars.

  • Who can join IHEA? Is it open to everyone?

Yes, IHEA membership, like ASHEcon membership, is open to all.  Both also offer institutional membership for universities and other organizations.

  • What are the benefits of joining IHEA for ASHEcon members?

IHEA is particularly valuable for health economists who want to learn from related work being done in other countries, and to expand their professional networks and set of collaborators. We’re fortunate that health economics is a thriving research area in many parts of the world, and there is so much new research being conducted and published that it can be difficult to stay on top of it all. One nice thing about attending the conferences is realizing how many other scholars share your interests, and how their research has important implications for your own. IHEA also has Special Interest Groups (SIGs) around various topics that make it easier to network with scholars in your research area, share information, and put together conference sessions.

  • What has been your favorite part about being involved with IHEA?

It’s intellectually exciting and gratifying to discover how many people worldwide have similar interests in terms of research questions, data, and methods. IHEA has been a great way to meet new health economists whose work is related to and useful for my own, and to continue to engage with old friends. This has happened by attending the IHEA World Congresses and by being involved in the Special Interest Group for Obesity. This involvement has made my research better, and more enjoyable to do, and expanded its reach and impact. There’s also a personal benefit. No matter what may be happening in terms of international relations, participation in IHEA allows you to directly interact in a positive way with people from all over the world. Even if two countries’ governments aren’t getting along, the researchers from those countries can still meet, share information, and collaborate. The resulting discussions and collaborations are an important reminder that our similarities are much more meaningful than our differences.