New Unit: Health Care – Our System, and What to do About it

by Prof. Hangen - November 7th, 2010

From now ’til Thanksgiving, we’ll be trying to figure out the very complex system of health care in the US. Our goals are to understand the origins and development of this system, figure out where we each fit in it, and to become familiar with the main issues in the debate over health care reform.

I’ve assigned a number of readings (and “listenings”) which I think will help us do this, but I am hoping that you each get interested in this topic on your own and seek out other sources of information also. As you do so, if you come across reliable (preferably nonpartisan) sources, please bring them up in class or mention them to me by email so I can pass along other good resources.

For Monday 11/8, your Disease Project paper is due. I have assigned some readings also, but I am planning to look at and listen to these in class. The first is a short (8-page) policy paper from the Kaiser Foundation that provides an overview of the system and its development, “Focus on Health Reform” . Second, the article by Numbers (#17) in the Leavitt book. And third, an 11-minute segment from the NPR program “This American Life” which aired almost exactly a year ago, looking at health care costs. You may not get to all three, but make a stab at it, and we will begin our discussion in class. What is “health care”? What falls into that category? How did our system develop? What might be wrong with it? And how can we fix it? Our discussion continues on Wed 11/9, adding in the article by Rosemary Stevens that identifies some of the policy and historical differences in the US and UK health systems (and with the help of the YouToons).

Monday 11/15
- in preparation, listen to This American Life, “More is Less” (online audio – about 60 minutes worth of listening) and we’ll discuss why health care in America is so darn expensive & confusing, and what are some policy ideas to deal with rising costs.

Link of the Day: Dartmouth Health Atlas

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