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Health Care Policy

Health care spending in the United States has grown to more than 17 percent of GDP, and is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy. One reason for high expenditures on healthcare is the “third-party payer” system. Employers or state and federal governments pay for medical services selected by patients and doctors, diminishing the incentive to select the most cost-effective services. In many cases there is little objective evidence on what is the most effective form of treatment for particular conditions. As a result, a given condition may be treated quite differently from one area to another. Moreover, in spite of very large expenditures overall, many citizens lack medical coverage and others forgo preventative measures that could reduce later expenditures on treatment. Dealing with these inefficiencies and coverage gaps is a critical national priority.

The concentration in health policy prepares students to take part in the analysis of health care policy and in the broader political debate about health care.  Students completing this concentration have employment opportunities with local, state, federal, and international organizations concerned with health policy and regulatory agencies and with the firms dealing with such agencies, including consultancies.


Required concentration courses and electives will be selected from the listing below, as appropriate for the goals of individual students. There will be a separate track for students with a special interest in epidemiology, which requires prerequisite coursework, specifically EPI 259, 261 and 223 or equivalents.

The list of graduate level gateway and elective concentration courses may also be found in the Stanford Bulletin. Note that this is not an exhaustive list; students may select other courses for their concentration with the approval of their faculty adviser. 

Gateway Courses for Health Care Policy Concentration*

BIOMEDIN 432. Analysis of Costs, Risks, and Benefits of Health Care
ECON 126. Economics of Health and Medical Care (not offered in 2020-21)
PUBLPOL 156. Health Care Policy and Reform
PUBLPOL 222. Biosecurity and Bioterrorism Response
PUBLPOL 231. Political Economy of Health Care in the United States  (not offered in 2020-21)
MS&E 292. Health Policy Modeling
BIOMEDIN 251. Outcomes Analysis
HRP 211. Law and the Biosciences
LAW 3003.  Health Law: The FDA 

Remaining units can be taken from the course lists below or with Faculty Adviser approval

Epidemiology Track Core Courses

EPI 225. Design and Conduct of Clinical and Epidemiologic Studies
EPI 226. Advanced Epidemiologic and Clinical Research Methods
EPI 236. Epidemiology research seminar

Health Policy Elective Courses

ANTHRO 179. Cultures of Disease: Cancer and HIV/AIDS  (not offered in 2020-21)
BIOE 390. Introduction to Bioengineering Research
CEE 265D. Water and Sanitation in Developing Countries
ECON 118. Development Economics
ECON 127. Economics of Health Improvement in Developing Countries
ECON 147. Economics of Human Resources  (not offered in 2020-21)
ECON 214. Development Economics I
HRP 207 and 208. Concepts and Methods of Health Services and Policy Research
HRP 211. Law and the Biosciences (offered in alternate years)
EPI 231. Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases
HUMBIO 120. Health Care in America: An Introduction to U.S. Health Policy
HUMBIO 120A. American Health Policy
HUMBIO 122. Beyond Health Care: the Effects of Social Policies on Health 
HUMBIO 122S. Social Class, Race, Ethnicity, Health
HUMBIO 126. Promoting Health Over the Life Course: Multidisciplinary Perspectives
HUMBIO 129S. Global Public Health
HUMBIO 153. Parasites and Pestilence: Infectious Public Health Challenges  (not offered in 2020-21)
HUMBIO 154C. Cancer Epidemiology
LAW 3003. FDA’s Regulation of Health Care 
MS&E 256. Technology Assessment and Regulation of Medical Devices
MS&E 252. Decision Analysis I: Foundations of Decision Analysis
MS&E 352. Decision Analysis II: Professional Decision Analysis  (not offered in 2020-21)
PSYCH 101. Community Health Psychology 
PSYCH 102. Longevity  (not offered in 2020-21)

*Gateway courses may vary year to year based on availability.