The Value of Health – Empirical issues when estimating the monetary value of a QALY based on well-being data


Decisions on interventions or policy alternatives affecting health can be informed by economic evaluations, like cost‐benefit or cost‐utility analyses. In this context, there is a need for valid estimates of the monetary equivalent value of health (gains), which are often expressed in € per quality‐adjusted life years (QALYs). Obtaining such estimates remains methodologically challenging, with a recent addition to the health economists' toolbox, which is based on well‐being data, the well‐being valuation approach. Using general population panel data from Germany, we put this approach to the test by investigating several empirical and conceptual challenges, such as the appropriate functional specification of income utility, the choice of health utility tariffs, or the health state dependence of consumption utility. Depending on specification, the bulk of estimated € per QALY values ranged from €20,000–60,000, with certain specifications leading to more considerable deviations, underlining persistent practical challenges when applying the well‐being valuation methodology to health and QALYs. Based on our findings, we formulate recommendations for future research and applications.

In Health Economics

The code for the full analysis and the creation of the analysis data set are available at the open science framework including further instructions:

Sebastian Himmler
Sebastian Himmler
Health Economics PhD candidate

My research interests include health and well-being, applied health economics and econometrics and health preference research.