OPEN ACCESSJanuary 10, 2007

The Structure and Funding of the U.S. Healthcare System


    The purpose of this resource is to provide medical educators with a self-contained educational module that can be used to open a discussion about the structure and function of the U.S. healthcare system. To accomplish this, the resource identifies and defines the different professional groups, delivery frameworks, and their interdependent relationships. The resource also discusses prevalent mechanisms of funding healthcare, with particular attention paid to both insurers and payers, and a special focus on some of the challenges they immediately face. Educators should be able to utilize this presentation, designed to fit into a one hour time period, with minimal preparation. The module is designed to be concise, all the while allowing the presenter and participants to use the material presented as a starting point for more substantive discussion in narrower areas as needed. It is recommended that educators have a familiarity with the issues that surround the ongoing debate concerning the U.S. healthcare system. Examples of such issues include the administration of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, the social factors that influence health status and healthcare resources utilization, and an overview of other models of national health resource distribution (i.e., United Kingdom, Canada). This material is most appropriate for medical students, and both junior and senior residents.

    Educational Objectives

    By the end of this session, learners will be able to:

    1. Give basic descriptions of the major professional groups that constitute the US healthcare system.

    2. Describe the different mechanisms by which health insurance is purchased.

    3. scribe the basic demographics of those without health insurance.

    4. Competently discuss the challenges that our health care system currently faces and those that will need to be addressed in the near future.