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. You’ll write short essays, hear from industry experts and even design a plan of your own.

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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.

Skills you will gain from this course

  • 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 skill
  • An excellent course if you thinking about going into medicine

Hands writing notes about healthcare terms

3 Learning advantages designed for you

1. 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 Rochester mentors on your work
  • Use your knowledge of the U.S. healthcare system to create and advocate for your own reformed plan

2. Mentoring

You’ll receive guidance from a Rochester 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. 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
  • Asynchronous: you’ll learn through engaging videos. Tune in anytime that works for you.
  • Regular live group online sessions with a Rochester Mentor
  • Meet fellow students from around the world

Apply now for the next available course

June 11 - June 25

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

Length: 2 weeks

Cost: $995

Application Deadline: Sunday, June 4, 2023

July 9 - July 23

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

Length: 2 weeks

Cost: $995

Application Deadline: Sunday, July 2, 2023

August 6 - August 20

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

Length: 2 weeks

Cost: $995

Application Deadline: Sunday, July 30, 2023

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.

Hear from our students

"This course does not really feel like a class you take in high school. It is super engaging and has you explain your own personal opinions on healthcare and the politics surrounding it. The assignments are well detailed and rarely feel like a chore. It really helps you get insight on what a career in healthcare would be like, and you get to learn about the inner workings of such a complex system."

Carolina, U.S. Healthcare student from Spain

"I would recommend this course because it covers the issues of U.S. healthcare in depth. It doesn’t only cover the history of U.S. healthcare, but it also emphasises many factors of why healthcare is not easy to reform, introduces what healthcare is, and includes various useful case studies to learn about healthcare reform in preparation for the final project."

Anthony, U.S. Healthcare student from China

Course designed by:

Mical Raz MD, PHD, MSHP

Mical Raz, MD, PhD, MSHP, 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.

Headshot of Mical Raz

Course Mentors

Headshot of mentor, Jordie


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

Headshot of mentor, Emma


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

Headshot of mentor, Michael


University of Rochester graduate with a degree in Biology and Public Health. He's currently an MD/PhD candidate studying the history of medicine.

Headshot of mentor, Nolan


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.

Headshot of mentor, Victoria


Undergraduate student at the University of Rochester completing a fifth year fellowship after pursuing a degree in economics with a minor in psychology. She's an active member of AEI Executive Council, an organization on campus which promotes student discourse surrounding policy issues.

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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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: