Undergraduate Course Descriptions

HCMG101 - HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS (Course Syllabus)

This introductory course takes a policy and politics angle to health care's three persistent issues - access, cost and quality. The roles of patients, physicians, hospitals, insurers, and pharmaceutical companies will be established. The interaction between the government and these different groups will also be covered. Current national health care policy initiatives and the interests of class members will steer the specific topics covered in the course. The course aims to provide skills for critical and analytical thought about the U.S. health care system and the people in it. No pass/fail. Grade only.

HCMG202 - ECON & FINCING-HLTHCR DL (Course Syllabus)

The course provides an application of economic models to demand, supply, and their interaction in the medical economy. Influences on demand, especially health status, insurance coverage, and income will be analyzed. Physician decisions on the pricing and form of their own services, and on the advice they offer about other services, will be considered. Competition in medical care markets, especially for hospital services, will be studied. Special emphasis will be placed on government as demander of medical care services. Changes in Medicare and regulation of managed care are among the public policy issues to be addressed.

Prerequisites: ECON 001 or ECON 010 or permission of instructor.

HCMG203 - CLIN ISS IN HLTH CR MGMT (Course Syllabus)

This course will explore the effects of the changing health care environment on the physician, patient and health care manager. It is intended for any undergraduate with an interest in how 1/6th of the American economy is organized as well as those planning careers as health care providers and managers. The course complements other health care courses (that take a societal perspective) by focusing on the individuals who participate in the health care enterprise. There are no prerequisites, as the course will stand on its own content. The course will be divided into modules that focus on the participants of the health care process and the process itself. We will analyze the patient, the doctor, and manager in light of the patient-doctor interaction, the turbulent health care marketplace, expensive new technologies,resource allocation, and ethics.


This course examines the structure of health care systems in different countries, focusing on financing, reimbursement, delivery systems and adoption of new technologies. We study the relative roles of private sector and public sector insurance and providers, and the effect of system design on cost, quality, efficiency and equity of medical services. Some issues we address are normative: Which systems and which public/private sector mixes are better at achieving efficiency and equity? Other issues are positive: How do these different systems deal with tough choices, such as decisions about new technologies? Our main focus is on the systems in four large, prototypical OECD countries--Germany, Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom--and then look at other countries with interesting systems- including Italy, Chile, Singapore, Brazil, China and India. We draw lessons for the U.S. from foreign experience and vice versa.

HCMG212 - HC QUALITY & OUTCOMES (Course Syllabus)

This course will familiarize students with methods used to assess the quality of hospital or provider health care using outcomes data, and to understand and evaluate studies involving health care outcomes. Students are exposed to the mechanics of hospital quality evaluation and challenged to evaluate the medical and health services research literature on health care evaluation, as well as to make inferences regarding hospital quality and the comparison or rankings of hospitals or providers. Topics will include the history of health care outcomes analysis; the conceptual framework for outcome studies; consumer demand for information; an overview of medical data and data collection systems; a description of outcome statistics and severity adjstments currently in use; the study of excess variation in outcomes; and the use of guidelines to assess outcomes. By the end of the course, students will have developed a thorough appreciation of the current methods used by policy makers, researchers, and health care providers to evaluate medical outcomes, as well as those used by consumers to choose hospitals and providers.

Prerequisites: Introductory Statistics or permission of instructor

HCMG213 - HC MGMT&STRAT (Course Syllabus)

This course presents an overview of the business of health and how a variety of health care organizations have gained, sustained, and lost competitive advantage amidst intense competition, widespread regulation, high interdependence, and massive technological, economic, social and political changes. Specifically, we evaluate the challenges facing health care organizations using competitive analysis, identify their past responses, and explore the current strategies they are using to manage these challenges (and emerging ones) more effectively. Students will develop generalized skills in competitive analysis and the ability to apply those skills in the specialized analysis of opportunities in producer (e.g. biopharmaceutical, medical product, information technology), purchaser (e.g. insurance), and provider (e.g. hospitals, nursing homes, physician) organizations and industry sectors. The course is organized around a number of readings, cases, presentations, and a required project.

Prerequisites: HCMG 101


This course provides an overview of the management, economic and policy issues facing the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. The course perspective is global, but with emphasis on the U.S. as the largest and and most profitable market. Critical issues we will examine include: R&D intensive cost structure and rapid technological change; biotech startups and alliances with the pharma industry; pricing and promotion in a complex global marketplace where customers include governments and insurers, as well as physicians, pharmacists and consumers. We use Wharton and industry experts from various disciplines to address these issues.

Prerequisites: One undergraduate Health Care Management course or Economics course


This course combines the insights of health economics with a strategic perspective on the business of health. The first section will consider the costs and benefits of medical interventions, while the second considers insurance theory and places special emphasis on the challenges facing firms in the face of the rising costs of health benefits as well as opportunities for private insurers operating in publically financed markets. The third section will analyze strategies of vertical and horizontal integration and their effect on the balance of power in local healthcare markets. Finally, the course will cover the effects of reform on firm incentives. The course will be taught using a mix of lectures and cases.

HCMG250 - HEALTH CARE REFORM (Course Syllabus)

This course provides students with a rigorous understanding of the American health care system. The course will focus on five topics: 1) the developement of the current health care system; 2) challenges of health care costs, quality, and access; 3) lessons of previous attempts to reform the system and enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA); 4) the impact of the ACA on the financing, organization, delivery, and outcomes of the health care system; and 5) probable future evolution of the American health care system. Throughout the course, lessons will integrate health economics, health policy, and politics to elucidate key principles for understanding the health care system. The course will end with a consideration of the long-term outlook for health reform in the United States, including recent pushes for "Medicare for All." Students unable to sign up for the course who want to be placed on a waitlist should email Aaron Glickman at aarongl@pennmedicine.upenn.edu


This course provides an application of economic principles to the health care sector. By recognizing the importance of scarcity and incentives, this course will focus on the critical economic issues in producing, delivering, and financing health care. In particular, the course will analyze determinants of demand for medical care, such as health status, insurance coverage, and income; the unique role of physicians in guiding and shaping the allocation of resources in medical care markets; and competition in medical care markets, especially among hospitals. Special emphasis will be placed on the evaluation of policy instruments such as government regulation, antitrust laws, 'sin taxes' on cigarettes and alcohol, and public health programs. This course is similar to HCMG 202, but uses more advanced quantitative methods and formal economic theory; knowledge of calculus and basic microeconomics is recommended. Students who take HCMG 302 may not also take HCMG 202 (ECON 039) for further credit.

Prerequisites: ECON 001 and ECON 002 OR BEPP 250


The purpose of this course is to apply economics to an analysis of the health care industry, with special emphasis on the unique characteristics of the US healthcare markets, from pre-hospital to post-acute care. This course focuses on salient economic features of health care delivery, including: the role of nonprofit providers, the effects of regulation and antitrust activity on hospitals, the degree of input substitutability within hospitals, the nature of competition in home health care, public versus private provision of emergency medical services, the effect of specialty hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers, the economics of direct-to-consumer advertising and its effect on drug safety, defining and improving medical performance in hospitals, specialization and investment in physical and human capital, and shifting of services between inpatient and outpatient settings and its effect on health care costs and quality.


Delivering basic health care advances worldwide and continuing to increase lifespan and quality (in an affordable manner) represent some of the major societal challenges of our time. Addressing these challenges will require innovation in both medical technology and the ways in which health services are delivered. Through readings, cases, guest lectures, and your own entrepreneurial work outside of class, we will examine the environment facing prospective health care entrepreneurs: (1) sources of health care innovation; (2) the many "customers" in health care: patients, doctors, hospitals, insurers, and regulators; (3) the powerful established firms with developed clinical and sales expertise; (4) the investing community. Along the way we will develop a framework for thinking about what is different (and what is not) about the challenges of health care entrepreneurship.