Robert D. Eilers

Founding Director of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics


Robert D. Eilers, PhD

Dr. Robert D. Eilers (1930-1974) was founding Director of Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI), Professor of Insurance in The Wharton School, and Professor of Community Medicine in the School of Medicine. He earned his MBA in Insurance from Wharton in 1957 and PhD in Economics from Penn in 1961.

As LDI’s founding Director, Dr. Eilers helped establish Wharton’s MBA Program in Health Care Administration. Through his vision and energy, both ventures distinguished Penn as one of the first universities to advance interdisciplinary scholarship in the management and health sciences through a formal partnership between its business and medical schools.

An early architect of national health insurance policies and health maintenance organizations, Dr. Eilers wrote a large part of President Nixon’s 1970 national health insurance plan while serving as special assistant to the President. He was also a driving force in the development of the federal government’s policy on HMOs. With Paul Ellwood and Nancy Anderson, Dr. Eilers made up a team of three consultants to the Undersecretary of Health, Education, and Welfare which developed Medicare, Part C, the precursor to Medicare capitation as we now know it. It was this team that coined the term “health maintenance organizations.”