William Hsiao

K.T. Li Research Professor of Economics

Department of Health Policy and Management
Department of Global Health and Population

124 Mt. Auburn
Program in Health Care Financing 4th Floor
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
Phone: 617.432.0803



Dr. Hsiao’s health policy research program spans across developed and less developed nations. He and his research team focus their economic studies on five topics:

  1. a simulation model of the US health sector;
  2. payment systems for physicians and hospitals;
  3. comparative health care systems;
  4. financing health care in developing nations; and,
  5. interaction between economic development and health care.

Two projects address policy issues of the United States. Hsiao and his colleagues developed a large scale simulation model that intends to assess the fiscal and health impacts produced by various national health insurance plans. Using time series/cross-sectional data, Hsiao’s team designed a multi-equation model that employs a number of variables to predict utilization rates and prices of health services. This model also predicts total health expenditures from supply and demand variables, giving special attention to supply variables, such as physician and hospital beds per capita, availability of primary care physicians, and new technologies. The second project further expands his previous work on the resource-based relative value scale (RBRVS) by packaging physician services into episode of illness, and examines variation in resource input costs by quality of service.

Comparing health systems across industrialized nations, Hsiao applies political and economic theories to develop a structural framework of essential elements of health systems. His team uses econometric models to test various hypotheses and to estimate the extent to which each structural element influences health expenditures and health status. Employing his systemic framework, he is assisting Taiwan, Cyprus, Mexico, Colombia, China, and Sweden in their health systems reforms.

In developing nations, Hsiao’s research focuses on the development of sustainable financing mechanisms to provide health care for the poor, rural population, and urban workers. With UNICEF’s support, he collaborates with seven universities in China to conduct a nationwide study on health care financing and provision for 100 million poor Chinese. Meanwhile, with the support of The World Bank, he is launching a large scale social experiment on community financing for the rural Chinese population, involving 100 communities and two million people.


Ph.D., 1982, Harvard University