What is Healthcare Policy?

Healthcare PolicyOne area of fast growth and dynamic change within the healthcare industry is that of healthcare policy. In the current regulatory environment, healthcare policy is growing to cover everything from the design and implementation of health insurance plans to the efficiency and operations of major hospitals and the regulations that keep patients, hospitals, and prescription drugs safe. So, what does this growing area encompass? What is required to take part in healthcare policy decisions? Who is best qualified to find a career in this growing area of the broader healthcare sector?

Policy Jobs: A Look at What Gets Done in These Fascinating Positions

Healthcare policy encompasses any law, regulation, or research related to the better implementation of insurance policies, hospital care policies, and healthcare research, that might affect doctors and their patients. Therefore, this area of policy focuses on the design and cost structure of health insurance plans, government insurance programs, public health procedures and policies, and regulations governing the operation of hospitals and clinics.

Where Are Most Policy Jobs Located?

The vast majority of healthcare policy professionals work as budget or policy analysts within federal or state government. Policy analysts regularly review existing policies as procedures as passed by the legislature, and occasionally conduct studies to see if those policies are out of date, have caused programs in administering care, or are hampering the routine business of today's hospitals. When new or revised policies are required, analysts will draft proposed changes that may then be sent to the legislature for review, debate, modification, or enactment.

Budget analysts also deal heavily with healthcare policies, though their job is to make sure that these policies are fiscally sustainable over the medium-term and long-term. If a policy proves too costly, or does not have adequate funding, their work will allow the legislature to make changes to fix funding problems and keep the policies in effect, without negative consequences on any of the major players.

A Career in Policy: How to Get Started in This Field

The healthcare industry requires a lot of its professionals, even those who work in policy rather than in patient-facing positions. To get started in a policy position, professionals should have at least a bachelor's degree in public policy, public administration, public health, or another field that offers some combination of healthcare and public policy skills. A bachelor's degree is often considered the minimum qualification for policy jobs at both the state and federal level, however.

Candidates who wish to improve their standing for a competitive policy job must also be able to show an advanced degree in a field related to this position. The most common of these is a Master of Public Administration degree, but many aspiring policy analysts and budget analysts have pursued Master of Healthcare Administration degrees, Master of Accountancy degrees, or even a healthcare-focused MBA.

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A Competitive and Exciting Position for Policy Experts

The healthcare industry is changing rapidly, with new policies that are making insurance easier to obtain and quality care easier to find, according to the World Health Organization. Those professionals who wish to decide how healthcare will continue to develop should pursue a related series of degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level, and determine where their skills are most likely to help the industry. With a specialized education in healthcare policy and a set of clear goals for the future of this sector of the economy, policy and budget analysts will be able to find great success over the long-term.

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