Comparative Analysis of Health Systems
We tend to be ethnocentric in our views of health care organization and policy. A look abroad, however, can provide insights about problems at home. In spite of differences in the organization and financing of their health care systems, most countries share a number of common problems with the United States. First, is the question of deciding - or not explicitly deciding - what proportion of GNP should be devoted to health and welfare. Second, is the problem of agreeing on appropriate criteria to allocate health and social service expenditures. Third, is the problem of how to implement established policies: through regulation, promotion of competition, budgeting, or reimbursement incentives directed at health care providers.
The readings, lectures and class discussions will focus on the organization and financing of health systems in wealthy nations. We begin with a discussion of conventional health system models around the world and alternative perspectives for studying them and evaluating their performance. We will discuss how so much of the literature draws on selective evidence to evaluate health care systems in the U.S. and abroad. Finally, we will study a range of different approaches to the empirical analysis of health system performance in selected nations, and examine the extent to which the available evidence supports or refutes widely shared views of different health care systems.