Favorites ()
Business professional in a medical office. 

Understand the U.S. Health Care System

Health Care Primer

In this one-day program, learn to be a more informed decision-maker and influencer in a health care-focused organization.

Do you need a better understanding of the U.S. health care system, to increase your ability to influence positive change? Consider the Health Care Primer at St. Thomas. In this day-long intensive program, you’ll learn about:

  • The different organizational structures of the health care delivery system and its financing relationships
  • The complex relationships between hospitals, physicians, payer systems, suppliers, government entities and consumers

You’ll also learn to blend critical thinking with systems dynamics, to develop and defend proposals for health system improvements. Small class sizes create a collaborative learning environment and help you build your network of fellow business leaders. Sessions are held on the downtown Minneapolis campus, and parking is available within one block. There are no prerequisites for this program.

Have Questions?

Contact Sandy Bauer, senior program manager and health care liaison. She can help you determine if this program is the right fit for you, and answer any questions you have.


Sandy Bauer

Senior Program Manager, Health Care Programs Liaison
Sandy Bauer headshot
Phone Number
Attendees talk during the Opus College of Business Professionals of Color event.

Is This Program Right For You?

Professionals at any stage in their careers are welcome. If your goal is to gain a foundational understanding of the American health care system, this program will be a good fit for you. It’s also ideal for:

  • New employees of health care companies
  • People considering a career in health care
  • Employees of companies that are suppliers to the health care system

If you’re seeking a program that balances business acumen topics with core health care-focused sessions, consider our Mini MBA in Health Care Management.

Benefits of This Program

Group of medical staff discussing in clinic hallway. 


Benefits of This Program

After completing the Health Care Primer, you’ll do your Monday smarter with:

  • Language to use in professional interactions related to the health care delivery system and its financing
  • The ability to develop and defend health system improvement proposals
  • A new network of professional peers, which you can turn to for support and advice long after the program ends

Dan McLaughlin, one of the University of St. Thomas' Opus College of Business Health Care program instructors, talks about what he and his colleagues contribute to the program and how they prepare students.

Executive Education: Health Care Primer

The Health Care Primer is designed to be engaging and informative for those who seek an orientation to the health care industry. Whether you are new, in-transition or looking for support in your continued learning, this program will provide you with an overview of the American health care system.


The U.S. health care system has a mix of private sector and government stakeholders. To successfully navigate the industry, start by learning how regulations, consumerism and costs work together. Explore the complexities through group discussion, to gain an understanding of:

  • Pros and cons of the U.S. health care system
  • Systems components
  • Health care policy: history and relationship to reform proposals
  • Markets
  • Government systems
  • Emerging trends and solutions for the future

Cost and payments are at the core of how the system operates and how consumers interact with it. This module walks you through the financial components of health care, including health plans, systems financing, payment methods and insurance issues related to government, employers and individuals. In class discussions and exercises, you’ll explore:

  • Organizational structures (hospitals, clinics, health plans, supply chain)
  • Health insurance
  • Underwriting
  • Moral hazard protections
  • Payers
  • Managed care
  • Payment systems
  • Fee for service
  • Capitation
  • Quality incentives
  • Costs

Now more than ever, our health care model is focused on helping people live the healthiest lives possible. This module prepares you to analyze current trends and the future of health care, relating to these topics:

  • Population health
  • Chronic disease management
  • Wellness
  • Patient engagement
  • Culture and cultural communities
  • Health care delivery

To be an effective contributor or leader in health care, it’s essential to recognize the various stakeholders involved. You’ll participate in a scenario based on a real-life situation, to practice what you’ve learned in class scenario. Through this case study, you and your group will:

  • Develop a major improvement in the health care system
  • Discuss the pros and cons of the potential change, and make adjustments to your strategy as needed
  • Create a final action plan to present to your classmates

Take the Next Step

St. Thomas Executive Education programs give you cutting-edge, practical knowledge and real-world skills you can apply at work the very next day. Gain the tools and techniques to be a more effective, strategic leader.
Request Information