Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
  • Oss0212
  • Sociology
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:

    Describe the U.S. Healthcare System with attention to both changes over time and current issues with the system


    OER Text Materials

    Understanding and Changing the Social World, Section: 18.4
    Section 4 summarizes medicine and healthcare in the U.S. This section begins with a brief history of medicine in the U.S. It then moves to a discussion of healthcare as an industry and gives a basic overview of the U.S. healthcare system. This overview is approachable and appropriate for an introduction to sociology course. Some issues with U.S. healthcare, such as lack of insurance, shortage of providers, lack of sleep of physicians and racial and gender differences in care, are presented. A major weakness of this section is that there is not mention of the Affordable Care Act. This is a major deficiency and quickly dates the material in the chapter. The chapter appears to cover too much and in doing so does not cover any topic very carefully. Instructors should be cautioned to encourage critical thinking around the issues presented in this section. Also missing from both sections is the relationship between culture and  health.

    Supplementary Material (Videos and Reading)

    1. Revisiting the Rationing of Medical Degrees in the United States – Contexts
      Great article describing how the internal mechanism of the medical training process contribute to the healthcare provider shortage.
    2. “Public Support for Single Payer Health Coverage Grows, Driven by Democrats” – Pew Research 
      While this includes data, the narrative discusses public opinion on who pays for healthcare and is very relevant to this learning objective.
    3. Healthcare System Overview – Khan Academy (video)
      Excellent 8 minute video from the khan academy providing an overview of the U.S. healthcare system focusing on the roles of key participants in the system.


    Health Insurance Coverage of the Total Population – Kaiser Family Foundation
    This source provides data on health insurance coverage by state and by type (i.e. employer, medicaid
    etc…) The data is currently available through 2016, but the site is updated. Instructors could have students explore this site to compare coverage across state by type. Students might also examine changes in coverage over time.