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Can the United States Afford the Health Care We Want?

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This course is no longer being offered.

Course Description

As calls for Medicare for All dominate headlines, the legacy of Obamacare is debated, and prescription prices continue to rise, health care is on everyone's mind (whether or not you're running for president). This course will equip students with the foundational knowledge, analytic skills, and policy acumen to critically analyze complex issues, including whether the Affordable Care Act was successful, what Medicare-for-All might look like if implemented, and other topical issues. This knowledge is critical for all future health care professionals, policy makers, researchers, voters, and taxpayers.

Health care systems involve the delivery of care (including providers, patients and technology); financing (including various public and private insurance sources and methods for paying for care); and public oversight (both federal and state governmental). The United States health care system is a complicated and ever-evolving system, as policy makers strive to curb costs and improve quality and access.

The US possesses the most diverse financing mechanisms in the world, and by the far the most expensive health system. Through discussions, readings, projects, data analysis, and lectures, this course will review the major components of the US health care system, including the political and economic environment that motivates government, private sector and individual consumers’ behavior and expectations.

The instructors, both PhD students studying various aspects of the US health care system, worked with insurers, providers, and policy makers before beginning their doctoral studies.

Activities will include reading news articles, academic studies, engaging with the online health insurance marketplace and quality compare tools, and a final group project analyzing a proposed policy of their choosing.

By the end of the class students will know how to think critically about and assess the costs and benefits of current and proposed health policies. They will also have a sense of how statistics are used by policymakers to assess and promote policies. They’ll be introduced to public health data analysis though their final project which will include analysis with statistical programming software that will be covered in the course (Excel, R, or Stata).

Prerequisites: Interested students should be comfortable talking about basic statistics, such as percent and rate calculations, but do not need to have taken a statistics course previously. High school students of all grade levels are welcome to enroll.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPC0902
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2020.

Program cancelled.

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