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HCA 334 Comparative Health Systems

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Lindsay Boezi
MacPhaidin Library 111C

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Course Overview

In this course we will examine the finance, organization, and performance of healthcare systems in selected developed and developing countries; and we will identify potential lessons that can be applied in the U.S.A. and elsewhere. In addition, this course will consider the impact across countries of global forces such as demographic shifts, greater consumer responsibility, automation, and healthcare workforce development and retention. Students will gain an understanding of challenges faced by both wealthy and less-wealthy countries in addressing the health of their populations, and how economics, culture, and values influence the healthcare systems operating in each country.

Students during the semester will also develop and refine their abilities to efficiently and effectively conduct research on specific countries and topics by tapping into the cornucopia of resources available via the Stonehill Library and the World Wide Web.

WTTDTY Assignments

WTTDTY stands for “What the textbook didn’t tell you.” Every textbook represents a snapshot in time, as the authors rely on the available information as of the date the textbook is finalized for printing. This semester we will specifically examine the healthcare systems in 10 foreign countries, using the profile of each of these countries that is included in the textbook as a starting point.

For each country reviewed in class, I will do an approx. 12-minute presentation based on the assigned textbook material on the country. Students will then work in teams in class {using your laptop or tablet} to locate more up-to-date information {2017-present} about some aspect of the country’s healthcare system. Your mission is to locate a relevant and interesting resource {article, report, video, blog entry, and so forth}. At the end of that day’s class, your team will report to the entire group what you came up with. Your team will also write up an approximately 2.5 page summary of the information you learned from the resource and why you found it so valuable and compelling. This write-up should be submitted to the designated dropbox on eLearn by 11:00 PM on the day after the class.

Suggested areas to examine include:

  1. Criticism/concerns that have been expressed about the country’s healthcare system and assessment of their validity
  2. A new policy or emerging healthcare issue relating to the country, aka what’s happening now
  3. An in-depth probing of some aspect of the country’s profile that you found particularly interesting where you go beyond what was presented in the textbook   

Research Paper

Research Paper. Your research paper can be on any topic in international health. You can compare countries or focus in-depth on a particular aspect of one country’s health care system.

  1. Paper should be about 10 pages long, excluding any figures and bibliography. Text should be double-spaced. Use 1-inch margins and 12-pt font size. Do not exceed the 12-page limit for text.
  1. Use at least twelve different sources. You may cite a single source (e.g., a WHO report) multiple times in the body of the paper, but that still counts as only one source. Personal interviews or correspondence, say with a public health official, can be a source. Your sources must be from 2014-present with at least half drawn from professional press sources.


            EXAMPLES OF SOURCES {published 2014-present)

Popular Press                          Professional Press

Businessweek                          Health Affairs

U.S. News & World Report     New England Journal of Medicine

Financial Times                      Journal of the American Medical Association

Wall Street Journal                 Journal of Health Politics, Policy & Law

New York Times                      Health Care Management Review

Fortune                                   Harvard Business Review

CBS News                              Institute of Medicine Reports

Glamour                                  Gov’t Reports (CMS, CDC, WHO, etc.)

Time                                        Foundation Reports (e.g, Commonwealth Fund, Blogs, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, etc.)

You can use web-only content (i.e., only exists on the web) for up to 25% of your sources, but the creators of content from any websites that you use must have legitimate, verifiable, demonstrated expertise. For example, Paul Levy’s Running a Hospital blog would be a legitimate source while Wikipedia would not be one. Provide the full URL for web sources, plus the date you accessed the material, along with the date the specific content was created.

Also, avoid using press releases: these are bulletins sent out by companies or organizations to publicize a new product/activity or to present a particular point of view. They are typically posted on the web via BUSINESSWIRE, PRNEWSWIRE, or MARKETWIRE.

In the body of the paper, just cite the source in the text (Rowling, 1997), (Bhalotra, 2004), or (Baker, 2007). In the bibliography at the end, you include the full APA-style citation, such as:

Rowling, JK, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Levine Books, Scholastic Press, 1997

Bhalotra, S, “How Healthy Are We? A National Study of Well-Being at Midlife,” New England Journal of Medicine. 12/2/2004, Vol. 351, Issue 23, p2460-2461.

Baker, C, “Group Insurance Commission and the Cities and Towns (2),” Let’s Talk Health Care blog. 10/4/07,, accessed 9/24/2012.

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