Economics (ECON) 321

Health Care Economics (Revision 5)

ECON 321

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook)

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.

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The primary purpose of ECON 321 is to introduce you to the field 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. In this course students examine 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 specifies learning objectives that students are encouraged to 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:

  • describe and discuss the concepts of health status and health care utilization, and the relationship between the two.
  • describe 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 Market Models used in Health Care
  • Unit 9: The Labour Market


To receive credit for ECON 321, you must achieve a D (50 percent) or higher on each evaluation activity. The weighting of the course grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 25%
Assignment 2 25%
Final Exam 50%
Total 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


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Hicks, Lanis, L. (2014). Economics of health and medical care (6th ed). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Other materials

Most of the course materials for ECON 321 are available online through the myAU portal.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you 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 about 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 percent) 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 5, November 26, 2014.

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