Course Description

Professional Development > Course Descriptions > The American Health Care System

This course surveys the historical development of the American health care system from the turn of the Twentieth Century to the present. We examine the logic, economics, and implementation of the system’s basic structural components from insurance, to hospitals, to models for compensating physicians and nurses. We review many attempts at reform, and discuss why they failed. We analyze in detail the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court’s rulings, and its provisions on access, cost control, quality, workforce, and financing. And we begin to consider some of the directions in which the American health care system may evolve next.

Historic miner and logger photos
LECTURE VIDEO SAMPLE: A segment on the history of health insurance, from The American Health Care System

Next Available Course Dates: October 2–November 26, 2018; registration now open

Estimated Hours/Week: 8

Learning Objectives

Learners who successfully complete this course will be able to do the following:

  1. Identify milestones in the history of the American health care system, as well as the history of federal health policy in the United States.
  2. Summarize structural elements of the American health care system, and current efforts to improve the efficiency of those elements in terms of access, quality, and cost.
  3. Apply this knowledge to better understand current events in health policy, and in your own professional context.

Target Audience

Clinicians, researchers, and health care professionals from across the industry who are interested in the national policy context for their workplace. Through this course, you will gain skills at adapting workplace policy to the changing national health policy landscape and advocating for health policy change.

Meet the Faculty

Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD

Ezekiel J. Emanuel is the Diane v.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, and Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. He was the founding chair of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health until August 2011. He recently served as a Special Advisor on Health Policy to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and National Economic Council. He is also a breast oncologist.

Dr. Emanuel received his MD from Harvard Medical School and his PhD in political philosophy from Harvard University and has published widely on health care reform, research ethics, and end-of-life care. His book Reinventing American Health Care examines the history of the U.S. health care system, the Affordable Care Act, and health care predictions for the future. Its sequel, Prescription for the Future, was released in June 2017. Dr. Emanuel also serves as a Venture Partner at Oak HC/FT in addition to serving as contributor for the New York Times and Fox News.

He began teaching online with a massive open online course on Coursera in 2013 and has since shaped his experiences and research into brief video lectures on medical ethics and health policy issues for continuing education, professional development, and academic learners.

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