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Benefits and Beyond: Economics Alum on Healthcare

Alumnus Thomas Murphy recently published a book on employee benefits and healthcare.

Date: 6/16/2009
By: Kim Burdett
Phone: (513) 556-8577
Photos By: Provided by Thomas Murphy and amazon.com
Thomas E. Murphy, a McMicken alumnus (’64, BA, Economics) and professor in the Farmer School of Business at Miami University, has recently published a textbook about employee benefits.

The book, “Benefits and Beyond: A Comprehensive and Strategic Approach to Retirement, Health Care and More,” is a result of many unanswered questions Murphy found while teaching a class on employee benefits in MU’s departments of management and finance. (His blog, managementandbeyond.com, also features similar discussions.)

Thomas Murphy.
Thomas Murphy is an economics alum with expertise on employee benefits.

“I started teaching the course, but I found there were no good textbooks on the subject,” he says. “So I decided to write a book that would give students a strong foundation in the economics of human resource practices, which are linked to rewards and benefits and would stick with them for some time because benefits are always changing.”

The book, published in December by Sage Publications, is timely. With healthcare reform a hot political topic, Murphy made sure to include the subject of reform into his book, “so students would have some understanding of the complexity of things like health care, Social Security and Medicare reform,” he says. “They need to know how to go about making decisions about future alternatives.”

Many of his own personal experiences act as a basis for the publication, an inclusion that makes the material interesting and educational for his students, Murphy says.

When he retired from the Kroger Co. as a human resource and labor relations senior officer in 1997, Murphy decided to apply to the Fulbright Program, where he received a six-month assignment to the National Center for Human Resources in Jordan. The experience allowed Murphy to work alongside Jordanian Crown Prince Hassan in an attempt to build relationships between universities and businesses. The experience was so successful, Murphy returned for another 10-month job and ultimately became a Fulbright Specialist accepting a variety of short-term assignments.

Benefits and Beyond.
Murphy's book, 'Benefits and Beyond,' was recently published by Sage Publications.

These experiences abroad have exposed the 2002 McMicken distinguished alumni award recipient to different healthcare systems in the various nations he’s taught, including Monaco, Italy, Austria and Lebanon.

Murphy—once an associate professor and associate dean at UC’s College of Law (where he also received his JD in ’67)—makes sure to discuss other countries and their visions of healthcare in his book.

“I think the book is somewhat unique in that it is very readable. It has a lot of vignettes which are based on my own experiences,” he says. “The topics covered go well beyond what the typical book covers because of the emphasis I put on global benefits.”

Francois, a character in France, exhibits what happens for a patient visiting a doctor in a country with a national healthcare plan.

“It demonstrates how the healthcare plans are structured differently,” Murphy says.

While the book has just been released, the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) program—an organization that certifies professionals to become benefit specialists—is considering the book as a possible reading requirement.

The textbook, geared toward undergraduates in finance, economics or management classes, is available at Amazon and Sage.

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