Health Policy Analysis

As health systems in the United States and abroad cope with issues of access, quality, and cost, there is increasing demand for health policy analysts, consultants, and advocates to help develop and implement new and innovative ideas. The 2010 enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, for example, requires dramatic changes in U.S. insurance systems, a reorganized health and public health delivery system, and politically difficult cost-containment strategies. These and other reform initiatives require individuals with the analytic skills to formulate, implement, and evaluate health policy and programs at organizational and system-wide levels. 

The Health Policy Analysis Certificate provides the education to address the urgent policy problems facing health organizations and healthcare systems. Students will learn from faculty working at the forefront of policy issues, who focus on topics including access to care, insurance markets, health economics, mental health policy, health manpower, and health systems more generally, in both domestically and globally.  

Graduates will be prepared to work with other health professionals and policymakers in government, think tanks and foundations, health departments, consulting firms, international health organizations, and hospitals to improve quality, expand access, and lower disparities in a cost effective manner.

Admissions Eligibility

Health Policy Analysis is only open to Columbia MPH students enrolled in the Department of Health Policy and Management. Prospective students are encouraged to specify the Health Policy Analysis certificate in their application. 

The Competencies for this Certificate are as follows:

  1. Analyze the history and structure of the United States healthcare system and specify how social, political, legal, technological, and economic forces have shaped it. 
  2. Analyze key policies and components of the US healthcare system, including public and private insurance coverage and regulation, quality monitoring, payment methods, and financing of healthcare. 
  3. Apply economic, political and organizational theories to the analysis of healthcare policy and management issues in order to inform decision making and policy development.
  4. Design policy solutions based on sound analysis of stakeholder views, political institutional features, technical feasibility and value acceptability. 
  5. Apply statistical methods in order to explain causal relationships between policy interventions and population health outcomes.

Learn More

Visit the Certificates Database to learn more about core and credit requirements.

Sample Courses

Program Evaluation Design for Health Policy and Management

Program evaluation is an applied field that is intended to provide the evaluator and the organizations for which they work with performance data on programs of interest. This class is designed to provide students with an introduction to the techniques and methods associated with designing and performing effective and user focused evaluations. Learning objectives include designing a program evaluation appropriate to the intended purpose, identifying strengths and weaknesses of existing evaluations, understanding the uses of different approaches and techniques, and communicating evaluation results effectively in both oral and written form. The course will focus on lecture and in-class exercises with a key service learning component.

Public Health Law

This course is intended to introduce students to (i) certain basic principles of the legal system in the United States and (ii) major elements of the legal framework of health care administration. Students will be exposed to legal terms and approaches, and analyze federal and state statutes and regulations, as well as case law relevant to health care administrators, providers and consumers. We will review the development of certain laws shaping health care delivery and concurrently how public policy shapes the law. Students will have the opportunity to examine the legal issues that will affect health care providers, consumers and regulators. In addition, if time permits and a "health reform law" is passed, we will likely allocate at least one session to reviewing certain legal elements of health reform.

At the end of the course, the student should understand the legal principles governing health care administration and have the basic ability to recognize common legal problems and approaches to their management. In addition, the student should have a basic substantive understanding of the major elements of the most commonly encountered laws focused on health care administration. Finally, students should have a better understanding of the interrelationships among the major players in health care delivery, and how these interrelationships are implicated in ethics, law and public policy.

In this course we explore constitutional law through the lens of public health policy. We examine the relationships and tensions between individual and collective concerns. We evaluate public health issues from an American legal perspective to determine the constitutional soundness of the health promotion objective. In this course we consider multi-disciplinary factors and how they interact with issues of federalism, morality, economics and the politics of science. Readings include case law and related legal materials, in addition to writings by public health practitioners, historians, sociologists, economists and philosophers. Core topics include, among others, constitutional law and major constitutional cases relating to public health, economic analysis in law, tort litigation in public health, historical public health law perspectives, health promotion campaigns, property regulation, privacy protection, various case studies including immunization, civil commitment, infectious disease, tobacco policy and abortion law. Guest speakers provide additional current perspectives from practitioners.

Health Policy and the Political System

Why does the government play such a central role in the health of its citizens? What factors unique to American politics have given us the healthcare system we currently have, and how much change can be accomplished within our philosophical and ethical confines? How do political changes yield policy shifts—or not?

This course analyzes the role of major institutions—the central government, the federal system, the private sector, interest groups, and so on—in formulating and implementing health policy in the United States. We will discuss underlying normative issues and crossnational perspectives on healthcare to situate American healthcare policy along a broader global political spectrum, and attempt to forecast what changes are likely—or unlikely—to occur. Topics will include political history, policy formation and recommendations, market forces and economic influences, and more.

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