Fall 2023 Health Policy Courses

Harvard Kennedy School

U.S. Health Care Policy

Amitabh Chandra

This course discusses the U.S. health care system, the challenges created by the political economy of the system, reform efforts, and the opportunities for public policy.  Topics include uninsurance, quality, disparities, cost-growth, market-power, medical malpractice, long-term care, innovation and pharmaceutical pricing.  We will focus on major health policy institutions, issues that cut across institutions, including private insurers and the federal/state financing programs (Medicare and Medicaid/SCHIP), and examine how major pieces of legislation, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and ideas like ‘Medicare for All’ confront these challenges. Our emphasis will be on ‘evidence based health policy’ and we will use a mix of cases, books, and movies to understand challenges, opportunities, and the evidence for reform ideas. Students are expected to actively participate in the discussion. No disciplinary background is assumed, nor is any special familiarity with the field of health care required. However, knowledge of basic economics and basic statistics will be assumed. 


U.S. Healthcare Industry and Regulatory Policy

Leemore Dafny

The U.S. healthcare sector absorbs nearly one-fifth of GDP, encompassing a diverse set of industries with public, not-for-profit, and for-profit buyers and sellers.  Regulators have a substantial opportunity and obligation to promote efficiency and competition in these various industries.  Gaining a better understanding of firms’ strategic considerations is essential for designing optimal policies. This course will introduce participants to the key sectors comprising the healthcare industry (including insurers, pharmaceuticals, and acute and non-acute care providers) from the vantage point of the firms operating within them.  We will discuss the impact of regulation and public insurance programs on business strategies and outcomes, with an emphasis on competition policy (i.e., antitrust enforcement).  Virtually all examples will be U.S.-based.  We will discuss select developments in U.S. healthcare reform over the past 8-9 years, particularly those affecting healthcare enterprise.

Course time will be split between lectures and case discussions.  Readings must be completed before class due to the interactive case-teaching method employed.

Doctoral Seminar in Health Economics

Mark Shepard

Explores frontier work in the field of health economics. Focuses on learning advanced theories and economic models useful for policy analysis, and on helping students develop dissertation and/or research topics. Students enrolled for credit are expected to present original research at the end of the semester.

Permission of the instructor required for nondoctoral students. (Also offered at Boston University.) Meeting location moves to the HKS on March 31.

Harvard Business school

HBS 2157
U.S. Healthcare Strategy

Leemore Dafny

The U.S. healthcare sector accounts for nearly one-fifth of the economy, encompassing a diverse set of industries and involving organizations and regulators with a variety of objectives. This course will introduce participants to the key strategic problems facing healthcare businesses, and will illustrate how strategic principles can be applied in healthcare settings to identify sources of competitive advantage (and all too often, disadvantage).

Our emphasis will be on payers and providers, but we will also devote 20-25% of our case discussions to prescription drugs. Throughout, we will also discuss the role of U.S. regulations and policies on organizational strategies and market outcomes.

Topics (examples) include: industry analysis (Oscar Health Insurance); sustaining profits over time (pharmaceutical company practices); product differentiation and entry decisions (Amgen); mergers (Boston-area hospital system consolidation); population health (Massachusetts General Hospital and Oak Street Health); vertical integration (Kaiser and Cigna). In prior years, we have welcomed protagonists from government as well as the private sector.