• Harald Schmidt

Harald Schmidt, MA, PhD

  • Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics & Health Policy; Research Associate, Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics
  • Email: schmidth@exchange.upenn.edu


Harald’s research interests are centered around personal responsibility for health, public health ethics and fairness in resource allocation. In his Ph.D. Thesis, Just Health Responsibility, he developed a framework to decide on the fairness of policies that seek to promote personal responsibility, especially through rewards or penalties. A number of publications and current projects apply, test and refine this framework, combining conceptual analysis and empirical research. His work has been covered, among others, by the Congressional Quarterly, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Newsweek, MSNBC TV, and Reuters.

Harald did his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics and Political Science’s LSE Health. He previously studied Philosophy at the Universities of Bremen, Oxford and Münster. Before coming to Penn he was a Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice at the Harvard School of Public Health, and for seven years served as an Assistant Director of the UK’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics in London. 

He is a Research Associate at the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at Penn, a member of the International Society on Priorities in Health Care, and a member of UNESCO’s Ethics Task Force. The overall goal of his research is to combine robust conceptual and empirical work to contribute to more evidence-based, equitable and efficient health care policy and practice.

Selected Publications

Schmidt, H:

2013. "Carrots, Sticks and False Carrots: How high should weight control wellness incentives be? Findings from a population-level experiment." Frontiers in Public Health Services and Systems Research, Vol. 2, Issue 1, Article 2. [open access]

Schmidt, H:

2012. "Wellness incentives, equity and the five groups problem." American Journal of Public Health, January, 102(1): 49-54.

Schmidt, H., Stock, S., Doran, T.:

2012. "Moving forward with wellness incentives under the affordable care act: some lessons from Germany." Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief.

Schmidt, H.:

2012. "Personal Responsibility for health: a proposal for a nuanced approach" in Improving health and health care: Who is responsible? Who is accountable?, Rosen, B., Israeli, A., Shortell, S., eds. Accountability and Responsibility in Healthcare- Issues in Addressing an Emerging Global Challenge. World Scientific.

Schmidt H, Voigt K, Wikler D:

2010. "Carrots, sticks, and health care reform: Problems with wellness incentives." New England Journal of Medicine, 362(2):e3.

Schmidt H:

2009. "Just health responsibility." Journal of Medical Ethics, 35(1):21-26.

Schmidt H:

2009. "Personal responsibility in the NHS Constitution and the social determinants of health approach: competitive or complementary?" Health Economics, Policy and Law, 3 (2):129-138.

Schmidt, H., A. Gerber, and S. Stock:

2009. "What can we learn from German health incentive schemes?" British Medical Journal, 339:b3504.

Schmidt, H.:

2008. "Bonuses as Incentives and Rewards for Health Responsibility: A Good Thing?" Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 33(3):198-220.

Schmidt H:

2007. "Patients' charters and health responsibilities." British Medical Journal, 335(7631):1187-1189.


London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom), PhD, Health & Public Policy

Universität Münster (Germany), MA, Philosophy

In the News

The Ethics of Not Hiring Smokers

Finding employment is becoming increasingly difficult for smokers. Twenty-nine U.S. states have passed legislation prohibiting employers from refusing to hire job candidates because they smoke, but 21 states have no such restrictions. Many health care organizations, such as the Cleveland Clinic and Baylor Health Care System, and some large non–health care…
    • Harald Schmidt