The economics of health care delivery continue to increase in complexity thanks to numerous variables, including government intervention and technological development. This transformation is poised to continue for the foreseeable future, meaning individuals looking to carve out successful careers in public health must develop deep knowledge centered on the financial dynamics of this unique sector.
How? The online Master of Public Health program at Regis College is an effective option. Here, students can meaningfully engage with this topic through multiple courses. However, those pursuing the Health Policy and Management concentration, one of two specialty tracks available to online MPH program students, are perhaps best positioned to explore this important issue, as they have the opportunity to take HP 622 The Economics of Health Care. This course allows aspiring public health professionals to take an in-depth look at how the economics of health care are changing and learn about some of the forces driving this shift.
Understanding the issues
Health care costs have risen significantly in recent decades, according to analysts for Deloitte. In fact, worldwide health care expenditures are expected to reach an unprecedented $8.7 trillion by 2020. The U.S., which maintains the highest health care costs globally, is leading this trend. The country saw the share of its gross domestic product devoted to health spending increase from just over 10 percent in 1987 to almost 18 percent in 2016, researchers for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported. By the conclusion of that year, the total health expenditure per capita had risen to more than $10,000 in the U.S. — the most of any country, according to analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Peterson Center on Health Care.
This trend is expected to continue domestically, with the CMS projecting an annual cost increase of 5.5 percent between 2017 and 2026. Why are health care costs increasing in such a manner? Deloitte points to aging and expanding patient populations, the emergence of new health care markets, medical and technological advancement, and rising labor costs.
However, this spending has not translated to financial gains for health care organizations. The vast majority of these entities are struggling to maintain positive operating margins due to increasing demand, the implementation of new therapies and technologies, and ever-increasing human capital requirements, Deloitte found. Organizations in the sector are attempting to address these issues by streamlining operations, embracing vertical integration, and pitching partnerships with one-time competitors. However, this work is slow, meaning key health care organizations such as the U.K.’s National Health Service are fighting to survive.
As these respective patient- and provider-centered dynamics unfold and entwine, further complications arise. For instance, frequent changes to national medical programs like Medicare and Medicaid introduce new variables for which consumers and health care organizations must account.
This state of affairs is less than ideal for both patients and providers. Nevertheless, this is the environment aspiring public health professionals will encounter. One way the online MPH program at Regis College prepares students for this reality is via The Economics of Health Care course included in the Health Policy and Management concentration.
Finding financial footing
Individuals in HP 622 take part in collaborative analysis in an effort to better understand the economics of health and grapple with the various issues fueling the industry’s tumultuous fiscal state. This academic experience can equip future public health leaders with the backend insight they need to not only carve out successful careers but also make an impact on the organizations for which they will eventually work and the patients they might serve.
Students who complete The Economics of Health Care can prepare for fulfilling roles that may allow them to engineer and implement cost-cutting solutions that help both patients and providers. For example, graduates who become epidemiologists, a position that carries a median salary of more than $70,000, can participate in and possibly oversee research that leads to the creation of lower-cost cures. Those who become medical and health service managers can leverage their clinical and financial know-how to guide patients through the care continuum in a way that lays the groundwork for optimal health outcomes and smaller receipts. Students who become public health analysts can help achieve these aims as well by drafting data-backed policies that offer a roadmap forward for all stakeholders in the industry.
Of course, these are just a handful of positions in which financially minded public health professionals can find success.
Laying the groundwork for success with Regis
While HP 622 can certainly help aspiring public health professionals get a handle on the fiscal aspects of health care delivery, many of the other courses included in Regis College’s online MPH program also address this essential topic. For instance, students enrolled in Health Ethics and Law, and Contemporary Issues in Environmental Health, two of the eight courses that constitute the core curriculum, will also study the financial aspects of modern health care. This is also true of those navigating Concepts in Health Administration, where fiscal implications of overseeing medical care are discussed. The topic also takes center stage in the courses included in Regis College’s two online MPH program concentrations: Epidemiology and Health Policy and Management.
Students in the former concentration address the subject while discussing clinical study design. Those tackling the latter dissect health care budgeting and spending in courses like Contemporary Issues, Special Populations and Policies, and Health Policy and Program Implementation.
In all, this academic experience helps rising public health professionals cultivate the skills they need to contend with the economics of health care in multiple roles.
Interested in learning more about the online MPH degree program at Regis College? Connect with one of our enrollment advisors today.