Economics (ECON) 321

Health Care Economics (Revision 4)

ECON 321

Revision 4 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version.

View previous syllabus

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online or grouped study

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None. A basic understanding of mathematics would be an asset to the student.

Precluded Course: ECON 321 is a cross listed course—a course listed under two different disciplines—with HADM 321. ECON 321 may not be taken for credit by students who have obtained credit for HADM 321.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

ECON 321 has a Challenge for Credit option.

check availability


The primary purpose of ECON 321 is to introduce you to the discipline of health care economics. Like other economics courses, Health Care Economics is primarily concerned with how scarce resources are allocated. Much of the material presented in this course is similar to that found in an introductory economics course, but the emphasis here is on how concepts such as supply and demand, cost, and utility are applied to the health care sector. This course looks at how the economic behaviours of health care consumers and suppliers, particularly in Canada, affect the manner in which resources are allocated.

Course Objectives

Each unit identifies specific learning objectives that you must achieve in order to successfully complete the course. The course, as a whole, has been designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills that you will need to achieve the following course goals:

  • describe and discuss the concepts of health status and health care utilization, and the relation between the two.
  • outline the organization of the health care system in Canada, in terms of specific economic dimensions.
  • use economic analysis to predict patterns of health care utilization.


ECON 321 comprises the following nine units:

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Health Care Economics
  • Unit 2: Outputs and Outcomes—The Products of the Health Care System
  • Unit 3: Economic Dimensions of the Canadian Health Care System
  • Unit 4: The Demand for Health Care
  • Unit 5: Cost
  • Unit 6: Supply of Health Care Services
  • Unit 7: Demand and Supply
  • Unit 8: Specific Health Care Market Models
  • Unit 9: The Labour Market


To receive credit for ECON 321, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least a “D” (50 percent). You must achieve a minimum grade of 50 per cent on each assignment and the examination. In order to pass the course all assignments and the examination must be completed. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Assign. 1 Assign. 2 Final Exam Total
25% 25% 50% 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Jacobs, P. & Rapoport, J. (2004). The economics of health and medical care (5th ed.). Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers, Inc.

Other materials

Most of the course materials for ECON 321 are available online through the myAU portal. The textbook will be sent to you before your course start date.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the ECON 321 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least C- (60 per cent) on the examination.

Paper Exam

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 4, February 4, 2011.

View previous syllabus