• Harald Schmidt

Harald Schmidt, MA, PhD

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


My research interests are centered around personal responsibility for health, public health ethics and fairness in health care priority setting. My Ph.D. Thesis, Just Health Responsibility, developed an ethical 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.

I did my Ph.D. in Public Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science’s LSE Health. I previously studied Philosophy at the Universities of Bremen, Oxford and Münster. Before coming to Penn I 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 U.K.’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics in London.

I am a Research Associate at the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at Penn, a member of the Management Committee of the International Society on Priorities in Health Care, and a member of UNESCO’s Ethics Task Force. The overall goal of my 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:

2015. The ethics of incentivizing mammography screening. JAMA 314(10): 995-996.

Schmidt H:

2014. Planning, implementing and evaluating the effectiveness and ethics of health incentives: key considerations. Eurohealth 20(2): 10-14.

Schmidt H, Voigt K, and Emanuel E:

2013. The ethics of not hiring smokers. New England Journal of Medicine 368(15): 1371-73.

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:

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. "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:

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