Welcome to Exploring the U.S. Healthcare System. This open educational resource (OER) introduces students to foundational characteristics of the U.S. healthcare system. It begins with an overview of the healthcare system that includes a brief history and a description of the current state of health in the U.S. The second chapter describes health delivery systems, including inpatient, outpatient, post-acute, long-term, palliative, and hospice care. An introduction to health insurance in the third chapter will include an overview of basic concepts, private insurance, public insurance, and recent trends. The fourth chapter presents issues related to the triple aim of improving access to care, increasing the quality of care, and lowering the cost of care. The fifth chapter reviews how the government intervenes in healthcare and presents current policy issues related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and value-based contracting. The final chapter on the topic of technology in healthcare provides an overview of health information technology, health information legislation, emerging technologies, and the future of health information technology. Chapter content is supplemented with additional material such as reports, briefs, figures, infographics, definitions, and key terms. Chapters two through six end with a “knowledge check” exercise to actively engage students with the content. While this OER book was curated and created for undergraduate students in the field of healthcare, it is my hope that it will continue to be customized to other programs and shared again.

Karen Valaitis, MBA, Ed.D.


Book Citation:

Valaitis, K. (2023). Exploring the U.S. healthcare system. University of West Florida Pressbooks.

***Other formats available upon request


Open Educational Resources (OER)

This book is an adaptation of Introduction to the U.S. Healthcare System by Thomas A. Clobes with revisions and additions in text for clarification and flow. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License and in the spirit of OPEN education we have licensed this OER with the same license. 

It is also adapted with permission from United States: Health system review 2020 by Thomas Rice, Pauline Rosenau, Lynn Y. Unruh, and Andrew J. Barnes.

Book Citations:

Clobes, T. A. (2022). Introduction to the U.S. healthcare system. is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 by-nc-sa

Rice, T., Rosenau, P., Unruh, L. Y., & Barnes, A. J. (2020). United States: Health system review. Health Systems in Transition22(4), 1-441.

Click here to view the Acknowledgments.


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Exploring the U.S. Healthcare System Copyright © 2023 by Karen Valaitis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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