With the growing focus on healthcare reform, job prospects in health policy are booming. Public, private, and non-profit sector agencies are looking for leaders to take roles in formulating, implementing, and analyzing healthcare policy agendas and regulations.
More than ever, healthcare administrators working in a variety of policy roles are taking positions to implement local, state, and federal changes that support strategic objectives. In policy positions, healthcare administrators examine the impact of policies and programs on individual and population health. They often act as liaisons between institutions and policymakers, such as local and federal governments. The underpinning of the work is based on a desire to improve healthcare access on a nationwide basis.
To get a job in healthcare policy, job candidates should begin efforts through a graduate-level education, preferably a master of health administration (MHA). The leading candidates for policy positions have backgrounds in healthcare management and public health, among others.
Job Opportunities In Healthcare Policy
Healthcare policy jobs exist with non-profit groups, community-based organizations, lobbying groups, trade associations, healthcare corporations, and governmental agencies. The following are a few of the leading career opportunities within healthcare policy:
Healthcare policy analyst
Healthcare policy analysts formulate, analyze, and implement health-policy strategies for their institutions. They use research data and metrics to show how existing and proposed policies impact their core demographics. Analysts also use statistical modeling to assess the impact of policies on the demographic.
Analysts must have excellent verbal and written communication skills and frequently address lawmakers and lobbyists. They must be able to take complex issues and translate them into understandable bits of information. They prepare reports, briefs, and petitions. They can be asked to testify in public hearings and work collaboratively with policy makers to find solutions.
Glassdoor.com, a leading employment search site, found healthcare policy analysts earn, on average, $65,000 a year. At larger organizations, such as the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the base salary for an analyst is about $100,000. At smaller organizations, such as the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the base salary is about $57,000.
Healthcare policy consultant
Many companies do not have healthcare policy experts on staff so they hire private-sector policy consultants for assistance. Working at a large consultancy firm involves focusing on policy research and data analysis that are specific to clients. Consultants also perform strategic planning and cost savings/impact analysis.
Health policy consultants are expected to be experts in their fields, with the ability to critically analyze policies and determine best outcomes. Consultants make recommendations that can improve policy quality and effectiveness. In doing their work, policy consultants often have contact with managers, directors, lawmakers and lobbyists. They must be able to work across party lines.
Health policy consultants earn, on average, $74,000 a year. Many policy consultants work in large consulting firms, but others work as independent contractors.
Also called legislative assistants or LAs, most aides support federal lawmakers by observing and researching pending legislation and drafting proposed legislation. Some LAs also work for organizations that aim to influence lawmakers, such as lobby groups.
Job duties for LAs largely depend on employer preference. When working for members of the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives, or equivalent state legislative bodies, LAs monitor the activity of assigned areas of focus, which could include healthcare. In many cases, LAs are required to write legislative amendments, speeches, legal documents, briefing reports, memoranda, and press releases.
LAs also gather supporting materials for legislative bills, arrange for committee testimonies, and make presentations to committees. They also meet with constituents and special-interest groups on behalf of legislators. LAs earn, on average, about $50,000 a year.
Health policy communication specialist
Working in communications requires excellent verbal and written skills. Health policy communication specialists are expected to conduct policy analysis, write policy reports, and communicate results. They must be able to understand and correctly disseminate information about current and proposed legislation at all levels of government. They may also be required to prepare talking points and presentations on health issues for large audiences.
Communication specialists are also required to prepare marketing and advertising campaigns that align with the goals. In this, they work strategically with digital, content and creative teams to develop deliverables that project the desired results. On average, communication specialists earn about $52,000 a year.
Education For Healthcare Policy Careers
A majority of careers in healthcare policy begin with an advanced degree, including a master’s in health administration. Employers expect their policy specialists to have the skills to shape the future of healthcare and experience in health policy on local, state and federal levels. Those working in health policy should have strong math, critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills.
The leading MHA degree programs provide courses of study that help students hone their policy skills. For example, Maryville University’s online MHA students who choose a concentration in Healthcare Strategies undertake foundational economics and policy coursework that explores concepts that include healthcare markets, health insurance markets, and the role of the government.
About Maryville University’s Online MHA Degree Program
Maryville University’s MHA program is designed to provide a comprehensive education, with coursework based on the healthcare executive competencies designed by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). Maryville University’s MHA program is 100 percent online, allowing students to continue their careers and personal lives while pursuing an advanced degree. Students can choose from a general MHA or one of four academic concentrations: Healthcare Strategies, Data Management, Senior Services, or Population Management. For more information, visit Maryville University’s online MHA program.