America's $4 Trillion Challenge: Boosting Health Care Productivity and Broadening Access






Alan M. Garber (Department of Economics, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health)

Freshman Seminar 40K  4 credits (spring term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 15

"Why does health care cost so much?" Policymakers, employers, and the public share deep frustration at high health expenditures, which are blamed for rising federal deficits, the declining competitiveness of US businesses, and the risk of financial ruin for individuals unfortunate enough to suffer a costly illness or injury. Unless health expenditures can be controlled, universal access to care is likely to remain an unattainable goal in the United States. In this seminar, we will explore the causes and consequences of the high costs of care and the range of approaches to increasing the productivity of health care. The Affordable Care Act and alternative health reform options will be critically examined for their effects on health care productivity. Students will be exposed to techniques for measuring the effectiveness and value of health care, and will become familiar with economic and clinical studies. Students will be asked to produce a mid-term outline and final paper on solutions for improving health care productivity in the US.

Prerequisites:  Background in microeconomics at the level of first-semester Economics 10 is required. Knowledge of AP-level statistics is desirable. The course is relevant to anyone with an interest in applied economics, public policy, health care, or public health.


See also: Spring 2021