Health Policy Career Opportunities

Health policy is the study of factors influencing the delivery of health care and the status of health. By its nature, this endeavor cuts across many fields, including social sciences, statistics, law, and medicine. As a result, health policy requires special creativity and originality to bring differing perspectives and bodies of knowledge to bear on important social issues.

The ability to analyze health policy has become central to the functioning of almost every kind of organization involved in the health care system, whether for-profit, nonprofit, or governmental.

Health policy influences a range of organizations:

  • Health systems and hospitals depend on policy set by federal, state, and local government agencies for their financial existence.
  • Private insurance companies and managed care organizations set policy on their own by implementing reimbursement and other contractual arrangements.
  • Pharmaceutical business operations are governed by the actions of the federal Food and Drug Administration and other regulators, as well as by reimbursement programs, both governmental and private.
  • Health care professionals—physicians, nurses, pharmacists, psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and many others-function in an environment shaped by licensure laws and reimbursement plans.
  • Government agencies determine the behavior of large portions of the health care industry through complex regulatory programs that promote quality, increase access, and control costs.
  • Legislators set policy through the enactment of laws based on the input of health policy advisors.
  • Researchers working in academia, in government, at foundations, with consulting firms, and elsewhere provide data and analyses.
  • Investment analysts study the reimbursement, policy, and regulatory environments to assess investment opportunities and risks.
  • Foreign governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) sponsor studies in health services and sustainability.