Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation

Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation

For over a decade, the Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation has been developing economic models to answer salient policy questions surrounding the elderly in the United States. The center is one of 10 established by the National Institute on Aging to move promising social and behavioral research findings out of the laboratory and into programs, practices, and policies that will improve the lives of older people and the capacity of society to adapt to societal aging.

The center’s flagship project is the Future Elderly Model (FEM), an economic-demographic microsimulation led by researchers at the University of Southern California, with collaborators from Columbia University, Harvard University, Stanford University, RAND Corporation, University of Michigan, and University of Pennsylvania. The FEM is used to explore a variety of policy questions including the assessing the value of delayed aging; understanding the fiscal implications of the widening SES gradient in life expectancy; quantifying the value of health improvement at older ages; and developing a model to analyze global pharmaceutical policy and health.  Through work using the FEM, the center has produced over two dozen peer-reviewed publications, including clusters of research highlighted in special issues of Health Affairs. FEM findings have been relied on by several government agencies, the White House and Congress as well as by private organizations interested in aging policy.

The Future Americans Model (FAM) is an economic-demographic microsimulation that extends the Roybal Center’s Future Elderly Model (FEM) to the entire adult population in the United States. A major project of the FAM is an analysis of early childhood determinants of health in old age. Researchers aim to simulate the control and treated cohorts from a well-known early childhood intervention, the Carolina Abecedarian project (ABC), using FAM. The Roybal Center is working with Nobel laureate James Heckman from the University of Chicago to review the preliminary results of the ABC intervention on health. Researchers are expecting to use the adaptation of the FAM framework created through the ABC data to study several questions related to the health and economic impact of early childhood interventions like the Carolina Abecedarian project.

In 2014, the center received a renewal by the National Institutes of Aging (NIA) for five years. Under this funding, the center will continue its translational efforts to elevate aging policy discussions in two areas of emphasis: finding policies to mitigate the social consequences of health disparities; and assessing international lessons for U.S. aging policy.

For more about the Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation, go to:


Schaeffer Center Signs International Agreement to Inform Health Policy across Scores of Nations
The Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the University of Rome Tor Vergata have signed an agreement to develop a global aging simulation platform.

Future Elderly Model is Centerpiece of a National Academy of Sciences Report
Description: The Growing Gap in Life Expectancy by Income: Implications for Federal Programs and Policy ResponsesIn a National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report released in 2015, a committee chaired by Ronald Lee (U.C. Berkeley) and Peter R. Orszag (Citigroup) collaborated with Roybal Center researchers to investigate the macroeconomic implications of trends in health inequality in the US. Using the Center’s Future Elderly Model (FEM), the committee examined how changes in life expectancy will likely affect the progressivity of federal programs. Findings suggest significant reductions in progressivity of both Medicare and Social Security if current mortality trends persist and noticeable effects on total program costs.

Baby boomers will drive explosion in Alzheimer’s-related costs in coming decades, study finds
Models show that the number of patients will more than double in 40 years, and costs associated with their care will nearly quintuple.


Predicting the Economic Impact of Changes to Population Health
By: Mike Branom

So much of health care policy is decided by the science of the educated guess, with “what-if” forecasts at the heart of any analysis. How much will the nation be spending on health care in two decades if the Affordable Care Act goes untouched? What if the ACA is scrapped entirely? If, by a miracle, diabetes were cured tomorrow, what would happen to life expectancy in the United States? The Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation, housed within the Schaeffer Center, delves into these major health care questions and the consequent implications upon the nation’s health and economics. More

The Baby Boomers Will Shift the Health Status of the Medicare Population

By: Stephanie Hedt

A new study by Schaeffer Center researchers Etienne Gaudette, Bryan Tysinger, and Dana Goldman predicts significant changes in the average future Medicare recipient. By 2030, the typical elderly beneficiary will be female, slightly younger, more educated and more likely to have never smoked according to the study findings. But, the average recipient will more likely be obese, disabled, and have more chronic conditions.  The video below outlines their major findings. More 

Medicare’s Big Fat Problem, Fiscal and Otherwise
By: Etienne Gaudette, Dana Goldman, Bryan Tysinger, Alwyn Cassil

You can’t draw a straight line between growing Medicare spending and expanding American waistlines. But policymakers would be wise to keep both in mind as they ponder how to pay for the health care of 75-million-plus baby boomers who likely will live longer in worse health thanks to rising rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, which in turn are fueled by growing obesity rates. More

Understanding the Health and Healthcare of Medicare Beneficiaries in 2030


Dana Goldman, PhD
Dana Goldman, PhD
Director, Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation
Bryan Tysinger
Bryan Tysinger
Director of Simulation and Data, Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation