What you'll learn

  • How the U.S. health care system is organized, financed, and governed

  • How to give examples of key system stakeholders and participants, public and private

  • How to describe the U.S. health care system's essential building blocks, including Medicare, Medicaid, private health insurance, medical care delivery, pharmaceuticals, long-term care, mental health, oral health, and public health

  • Interpret contemporary policy controversies pertaining to each key U.S. health care system building block

  • Understand the basic components of the Affordable Care Act

  • Identify challenges associated with reforming the U.S. health care system

Course description

Health care in America can be complicated. Most Americans might not fully understand the basics of the U.S. health care system or health care policies such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Featuring some of the nation’s foremost teachers and thought leaders, this course provides students with a basic and thorough understanding of the U.S. health care system focusing on access, quality of care, and costs. Students will learn how the system is structured, how care is organized, delivered, and financed, and the role of the Affordable Care Act in the health care system. Students will understand the U.S. health policy-making structure process at the federal, state, and local levels. Students who complete this course will be able to interpret current controversies around US health policy and develop informed opinions on potential future policy developments. Please note that the content in this course was created prior to the implementation of the ACA.


Professor of Public Health Practice and Director of the Center for Executive and Continuing Professional Education, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University

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