What do business students think about health?

Current 2nd year students, Alexis Kheir of the Tuck School of Business in the United States and Hiroe Sakai of  Keio University in Japan, gave a brief about the results of the International Graduate Student Survey conducted in the fall 2013. The purpose of the survey was to learn about what current graduate business students from the six participating schools believe about the topics covered in this Forum.

I found two of the questions very interesting.

The first question asked for a ranking of 10 health issues that governments face. Across the board, graduate students feel that the top issue faced by governments is to reduce health care costs. While rising health care costs are inevitable, there are different angles to approach this issue. For starters, how can the money spent on health care be used more effectively? In addressing this question, two key areas that should be explored include 1) how to tie health care expenditures to both outcomes and values, and then 2) where to allocate money across the spectrum of health care (from primary to secondary prevention all the way to acute care). Further, in an environment where the costs of rising health care costs are ultimately borne by individuals, what is the best way to encourage individuals to be more accountable for their own health and the costs incurred?

For the second question, one that impacts health care costs, the survey found that 71% of respondents feel that it is essential or very important for employers to provide incentives and disincentives for employees to adopt healthy behaviors. This definitely has implications for corporations across the globe that look to improve the well-being of their employees in an effort to improve productivity and ultimately reduce health care costs. In response to this high expectation placed on employers, I raise the question, “Why do employees need carrots and sticks to adopt healthy behaviors when those behaviors have a direct impact on their well-being?” Is there another way to address the issue of health and health maintenance so that the individual proactively adopts healthy behaviors for his or her own benefit, rather than expect others to provide the push?

By Vivien Lee, The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

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