NEWS:

Final Review Sheet. The review session is in Coleman 117 on December 12, 1999 at 2:00 (That's the Sunday before the exam, which is at 3:45 in BIOL 104). Bring your questions, then, or email me before. Good luck with finals!

Notes on Presentation and Revision.



Professor Wolaver

Office: 170 Coleman Hall

Phone: 577-1699

Email: awolaver@bucknell.edu

Office Hours:

Tuesday: 4:00-5:00, Wednesday: 11:00-12:00, and by appointment.

This course will cover various important issues in United States health policy debates from an economist's perspective. By the end of the semester, you will have a good overview of the major issues of concern for policymakers, insurers, medical professionals, and patients. More importantly, you should also be able to critically assess the merits and drawbacks of policies according to your particular value system.

This course is about increasing population or public health, a goal that is somewhat different than curing individuals. Of course we will discuss individual behavior and some individual medical treatments, but we will take a wider perspective on these issues. We are going to start out with a very broad overview (what is health, anyway?). We will take on a series of topics and study the historical background and the current issues. We will concentrate on the United States system of health care, but will also do some comparisons to other countries. We will discuss how the current system came to be, various problems economists associate with medical care markets, and government interventions. We will also be discussing how medical treatments are evaluated (and how they should be evaluated) by professionals for their practices and insurers (including the government) for their reimbursement policies.



A note on "numbers:"

This course will explore the state of the U.S. healthcare system, often through the use of general statistics or numbers to describe features of population health. Too often people misread, misuse, or simply do not understand the numbers we hear or read about everyday in the news. While a news story about one patient's outcome may be flashier than a bar graph, it does not allow you to make an informed opinion about the health plan or medical intervention. Our goal here is accuracy, and once you understand the basic statistical concepts, these cease to be merely numbers, but become information with meaning. For your reference, on the course web page there is a "statistical review" with some common definitions, etc...

Term Paper

Writing assignments will be a very important part of the course, culminating in a short (7-10) page term paper. We will begin with short assignments that summarize news stories that interest you, move to analyzing the reports. You will pick a topic early in the semester, so that you have the time to gather materials, begin formulating your question, and to write up a proposal. A rough draft of the paper will be due a few weeks before the end of the semester, and the final copy will be due at the beginning of the last class period. You will be given short, smaller assignments along the way that will guide you through the steps of writing a good research paper.

You will not be required to do original research (as in compiling your own data and using statistical analysis to look at a question), but you will have to marshal arguments in favor of your position, and to acknowledge the opposing view and defend against it. Class discussions, the readings, and the assignments will help you find sources and ideas for your paper.

Attendance and participation are very important to learning the material. The readings should be completed by the class period assigned, so that you may participate fully in the discussions. You are allowed two unexcused absences. Participation will be taken into account in the case of borderline grades. Late assignments will be accepted for up to four days after the due date, but will result in 25 % reduction from the total points. There will be several homework assignments throughout the semester, a midterm, and a final exam. Some of the writing assignments will contribute to a short term paper (7-10 pages) on a health policy question will be due the last day of classes. You will also make a short presentation of your paper to the class.

The composition of the course grade is: Rough Draft 10%

Term Paper 25%

Midterm & Final 30%

Homework/Presentations 35%

If you have a concern with the grading of an assignment or exam, submit a brief (one or two page) written explanation of why you feel your assignment was incorrectly marked, and I will then review the grade.

Starr, Paul. 1982. Social Transformation of American Medicine.

Kindig, David. 1997. Purchasing Population Health: Paying for Results.

These books are available at the bookstore. There are be additional required articles available on Ereserve and on the course schedule pages. You should also pay attention to the news, as we will be discussing current events in class.

Your homework assignments, readings (links included, if necessary), review sheets, and practice exams are or will be posted on the monthly schedule pages.

August

September

October

November

December

 

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Last updated: December 3, 1999 A. Wolaver