Online Course for High School Students

U.S. Healthcare: Politics, Problems, and Possibilities

Learn the inner workings of U.S. healthcare

If you ask your parents to describe healthcare when they were growing up, chances are it was a lot different than it is today. And since the birth of the Affordable Care Act, healthcare has changed even more. In this course, you will learn the history of how the U.S. system works and the turning points that influenced change. Get an in-depth look at the types of insurance available: employer-sponsored, Medicare, Medicaid, private plans and the ACA. You’ll also discover the difficult politics of reform and why healthcare is a flashpoint in our culture. If you're interested in medicine, healthcare, or public policy, this course is for you.

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Program Dates

 Multiple 2- and 4-week sessions


For students ages 13+



Understand the U.S. healthcare system: history, struggles, reforms, possibilities

Learn the history of U.S. healthcare and how the system works

What are the turning points that fashioned our healthcare system? How does insurance work? What is a co-pay, a deductible and a premium? How do these features set us apart from other nations?

Discover the causes behind employer-sponsored health insurance

What role did history play in making this type of insurance dominant in the U.S.? Who wins and who loses with this model? Interview someone in your life who holds this type of insurance.

Understand the politics behind Medicare and Medicaid

What is the difference between these two programs? What pressures do they face and how have they changed? Has Medicaid succeeded in providing insurance for low-income families? Learn how Medicare brought about desegregation in hospitals.

Dig into the complexities of healthcare reform

Why is reforming healthcare so politically challenging? What groups are for and against healthcare reform? What reforms have failed and why? What is an HMO, a PPO and managed care?

Gain insight into how the Affordable Care Act works

Explore the history and politics behind the ACA. What parts of the plan have made it so controversial? What are “pre-existing conditions.” Why did this legislation make a point to cover them? How is Medicaid coverage tied into this insurance option?

Prepare for a career in the field

Topics covered in this course offer a good background for potential careers in fields related to healthcare administration, social work, insurance, and not-for-profit advocacy. If you find the nuts and bolts of healthcare interesting, then this course is for you.

How you will benefit

  • Gain a thorough knowledge of U.S. healthcare
  • Gain insight into the key political issues and controversies 
  • Understand the types of coverage favored by different social groups
  • Acquire the ability to argue your viewpoint for healthcare reforms
  • Develop your presentation and communication skills
  • Determine if you'd like to pursue the fields of medicine or healthcare in the future

Student writing on a note pad while sitting on the floor

3 Learning advantages designed for you

1. Flexible Learning

  • 100% online — works with your schedule
  • 20-25 hours of total instruction and course work, including engaging multimedia, simulations, and curated assignments for which you will receive guidance and support
  • You’ll learn through engaging videos. Tune in anytime that works for you.
  • Engage with fellow students from around the world

2. Mentoring

You’ll receive guidance from a mentor who can support you and answer questions as you deepen your learning experience. You can expect:

  • Encouragement and direction on all assignments
  • Inspiration, motivation and confidence to help you succeed
  • Brainstorming to help as you prepare for your final project

3. Final Capstone Project

The course culminates with a special Capstone project that allows you to: 

  • Demonstrate what you’ve learned in this course
  • Get feedback from mentors on your work
  • Use your knowledge of the U.S. healthcare system to create and advocate for your own reformed plan

Apply now for the next available course

December 18 - January 1

U.S. Healthcare: Politics, Problems, and Possibilities

Length: 2 weeks

Cost: $995

Application Deadline: Sunday, December 11, 2022

All course options, whether 2 or 4 weeks, have the identical educational content, learning materials, and number of assignments. The difference in length of course is due to time of year (not amount of instruction). We know the school year keeps you busy, so we’ve made the course longer during that time so that you can get assignments done.

Course designed by:

Mical Raz MD, PHD, MSHP

Raz is the Charles E. and Dale L. Phelps Professor in Public Policy and Health, and an associate professor of history and clinical medicine at the University of Rochester. She completed her medical training at Tel Aviv University, from where she also received a PhD in history of medicine. Before moving to the U.S. for a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale, she worked at the Tel Aviv Medical Center and volunteered with Physicians for Human Rights. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital in 2015, followed by a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a practicing hospitalist at URMC at Strong Memorial Hospital, and is board certified in internal medicine.

She is the author of The Lobotomy Letters: The Making of American Psychosurgery (University of Rochester 2013), which was awarded the Pressman-Burroughs Welcome Career Development Award. Her second book, What's Wrong with the Poor? Race, Psychiatry and the War on Poverty (UNC 2013), was a 2015 Choice Outstanding Academic Title.

Dr. Mical Raz | U.S. Healthcare Course Instructor | University of Rochester

Course Mentors

Jordie | Rochester U.S. Healthcare Course Mentor


Undergraduate student at the University of Rochester studying Public Health, Spanish, Social and Emotional Development, and Education.

Emma | Rochester U.S. Healthcare Course Mentor


University of Rochester graduate with a degree in Bioethics (Public Health) and a minor in Legal Studies.

Nolan | Rochester U.S. Healthcare Course Mentor


University of Rochester graduate with a degree in Public Health, focusing on Health Public Policy, and a degree in Nursing. He currently works as an Emergency Medical Technician.

Student sitting at a desk and working at his computer

How to Apply

It’s easy. No transcripts or letters of recommendation are required. Our application will ask you to provide the following:

  1. Basic contact information for you and your parent or guardian.
  2. Why you wish to take this course. You can tell your story through writing, video, photos — any media you prefer. NOTE: Please submit all application materials in English.

Begin the guided process. It should take only a few minutes of your time to answer the questions.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How will you be graded? What are assignments like? How much time do you get to turn around a project? When do you find out if you're accepted?

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Undergraduate Admissions

To learn more about applying to the University of Rochester for your undergraduate studies, visit the Undergraduate Admissions page.

Learn More About Undergraduate Admissions


We offer need-based scholarships in each cohort to students exhibiting high potential who need assistance affording the associated cost. If you would like to be considered for a scholarship but you:

The University reserves the right to modify the course as may become necessary.