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© 2016 The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. Here we highlight a neglected contribution of Alexander Sutherland (1852-1902) to Australian health economics. Sutherland read a paper on health insurance at the Melbourne Social Science Congress that was organised in the context of the International Exhibition of 1880-1881. He proposed combining life and health insurance into a single product and to require those who are insured to obtain regular medical check-ups. The aim was to provide the insurer with information on the behaviours of the insured and to promote healthy lifestyles. These proposals were not well received at the time and have been largely forgotten, but may be relevant today.

Original publication





Australian Economic Review

Publication Date





169 - 173