By Amy Rothman Schonfeld

This spring will mark the inaugural biennial conference of the newly formed American Society of Health Economists (ASHE). The conference, titled Economics of Population Health, is scheduled for June 4–7, 2006 and will be hosted by the University of Wisconsin in Madison. More than 350 presentations and 60 posters have been pre-registered, attesting to a pent-up demand by US health economists to meet and mingle in a professional forum. The scientific program and lists of posters and presentations are available on ASHE’s website at http://www.healtheconomics.us. The website also contains information about joining the organisation, job postings, a members list, and professional activities.

ASHE’s mission is to provide a forum for emerging ideas and empirical results of health economics research. Through its efforts, primarily the biennial meeting and a presence at smaller conferences, the fledgling organisation hopes to achieve widespread recognition for the field of health economics and to provide evidence and expertise for the development of private and public policies. ASHE is an affiliate of the International Health Economics Association (IHEA) and each organisation’s annual conference will alternate each year.

ASHE’s founder Thomas Getzen, told Health Outcome Communicator that he is not surprised by the enthusiastic response to the new organisation. As the executive director of IHEA, he has been well aware of the active involvement of Americans in IHEA, and sensed the need for a US counterpart. He says ASHE will address some of the key concerns facing health economists today, such as the rising cost of healthcare, particularly employer-provided health insurance benefits, the use of realistic models of behaviour to inform policy, and establishing the correct use of incentives.