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Harvard School of Public Health

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Fall 2 2009

Dr. J Levin-Scherz
2.5 Credits
Lectures, Seminars, Case Studies. Two 2-hour sessions each week.

Health care inflation in the United States--and in many other countries--has consistently exceeded overall inflation since the mid 1990s, and employers, government, and individuals are increasingly reluctant to pay increasing amounts for health care coverage. Employer-based health care coverage has diminished, and escalating health care costs threaten other important programs of local and state governments. For example, estimates suggest that the Medicare Trust Fund will be depleted long before the Social Security Trust Fund, suggesting that Medicare will require substantial cuts or additional governmental subsidies. Health care affordability is a major subject in the national political debate.

This course will use lectures, case studies and a simulation to examine the major factors that determine the cost of health care in the United States, and the impact of these forces on system stakeholders. We will review the fundamentals of managed care, with a focus on some of the practical challenges and major public policy issues that arose with the growth and decline of managed care. We will review the advantages, disadvantages and feasibility of different approaches to moderating rising costs, including benefit design, medical management, utilization review, provider profiling and reporting, and regulatory action. We will also review efforts to improve health care affordability in other countries. Students will be encouraged to develop their own critical assessment of the prospects of using these techniques to control health care spending and to improve access and quality of care. A number of guest speakers will provide a first-hand perspective on some topics.

Course evaluations are an important method for feedback on the quality of course offerings. The submission of a course evaluation is a requirement for this course. Your grade for the course will be made available only after you have submitted responses to at least the first three questions of the on-line evaluation for this course.

Fall 2 2008

Dr. J Levin-Scherz
2.5 Credits
Lectures, Seminars, Case Studies. Two 2-hour sessions each week.

Health care inflation in the United States--and in many other countries--has consistently exceeded overall inflation since the mid 1990s, and employers, government, and individuals are increasingly reluctant to pay increasing amounts for health care coverage. Employer-based health care coverage has diminished, and escalating health care costs threaten other important programs of local and state governments. For example, estimates suggest that the Medicare Trust Fund will be depleted long before the Social Security Trust Fund, suggesting that Medicare will require substantial cuts or additional governmental subsidies. Health care affordability is a major subject in the national political debate.

This course will use lectures, case studies and a simulation to examine the major factors that determine the cost of health care in the United States, and the impact of these forces on system stakeholders. We will review the fundamentals of managed care, with a focus on some of the practical challenges and major public policy issues that arose with the growth and decline of managed care. We will review the advantages, disadvantages and feasibility of different approaches to moderating rising costs, including benefit design, medical management, utilization review, provider profiling and reporting, and regulatory action. We will also review efforts to improve health care affordability in other countries. Students will be encouraged to develop their own critical assessment of the prospects of using these techniques to control health care spending and to improve access and quality of care. A number of guest speakers will provide a first-hand perspective on some topics.

Course evaluations are an important method for feedback on the quality of course offerings. The submission of a course evaluation is a requirement for this course. Your grade for the course will be made available only after you have submitted responses to at least the first three questions of the on-line evaluation for this course.

Fall 2 2007

Dr. J. Levin-Scherz
2.5 credits
Lectures, seminars, case studies. Two 2-hour sessions each week.

The rising cost of health care has drawn increasing public attention in recent years. Many commentators have tied health care inflation with an increase in the rate of the uninsured, and rising health care costs are a major concern for state and local governments and many private employers. This course will use lectures and case studies to examine the major factors that determine the cost of health care in the United States, and the impact of these forces on system stakeholders. We will review the fundamentals of managed care, with a focus on some of the practical challenges and major public policy issues that arose with the growth and decline of managed care. We will review the advantages, disadvantages and feasibility of different approaches to moderating rising costs, including benefit design, medical management, utilization review, provider profiling and reporting, and regulatory action. Students will be encouraged to develop their own critical assessment of the prospects of using these techniques to control health care spending and to improve access and quality of care. A number of guest speakers will provide a first-hand perspective on some topics. (6.06)


Course evaluations are an important method for feedback on the quality of course offerings. The submission of a course evaluation is a requirement for this course. Your grade for the course will be made available only after you have submitted responses to at least the first three questions of the on-line evaluation for this course.

Fall 2006

Ms. N. Turnbull, Dr. J. Levin-Scherz
2.5 credits
Lectures, seminars, case studies. Two 2-hour sessions each week.

The rising cost of health care has drawn increasing public attention in recent years. Many commentators have tied health care inflation with an increase in the rate of the uninsured, and rising health care costs are a major concern for state and local governments and many private employers. This course will use lectures and case studies to examine the major factors that determine the cost of health care in the United States, and the impact of these forces on system stakeholders. We will review the fundamentals of managed care, with a focus on some of the practical challenges and major public policy issues that arose with the growth and decline of managed care. We will review the advantages, disadvantages and feasibility of different approaches to moderating rising costs, including benefit design, medical management, utilization review, provider profiling and reporting, and regulatory action. Students will be encouraged to develop their own critical assessment of the prospects of using these techniques to control health care spending and to improve access and quality of care. A number of guest speakers will provide a first-hand perspective on some topics. (6.06)


Course evaluations are an important method for feedback on the quality of course offerings. The submission of a course evaluation is a requirement for this course. Your grade for the course will be made available only after you have submitted responses to at least the first three questions of the on-line evaluation for this course.

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