External forces of history, financial constraints, political landscape, current socioeconomic structure and consumer preferences shape the structure, or lack thereof, of the American health care system—often through health policy decisions about funding care, reimbursement, and regulation. Direct effects can be seen in the organization and delivery of care. A focus of our class will be the downstream effects on access, quality, cost, equity, and population health. These five elements of health care are the pillars of this course.


The US has the trifecta of high cost, unequal access, and often below average outcomes compared to other highly developed nations. This module will provide an introduction to the American health care system (AHCS), explore some of the complexities of health care delivery, and provide a glimpse of the historical evolution of the AHCS that has led to the great debate and need for health care reform today. We will differentiate between the traditional primary care and hospital-based paradigms and more preventive, out-patient and medical home community models.

Explore the infograph about US Health Care Costs by reviewing "Visualizing Health Policy" from the September 2012 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association.  As you read, note the following:

Learning Objectives