Jonathan Oberlander

Jonathan Oberlander, PhD

Department of Health Policy and Management
Professor and Chair
Department of Social Medicine, School of Medicine
Adjunct Professor
Political Science
346 MacNider
CB #7240
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7240


Dr. Oberlander is a political scientist interested in the politics of health care and health care reform. His research and writing explores Medicare, the political history of struggles over national health insurance, health care cost control, the politics of the Affordable Care Act and reform plans such as Medicare for All. He seeks to understand how American politics and political institutions shape health care policy and the fate of reform.  

In the Gillings School of Global Public Health, Dr. Oberlander teaches a course through the Department of Health Policy & Management on health care reform to Masters and PhD students and a course on the politics of public health to undergraduate BSPH students.  In the School of Medicine, he teaches health care policy to medical students.

Honors and Awards

Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize
2006, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Teaching Excellence Award
2004, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine

Research Activities

  • Medicare
  • Health politics and policy
  • Healthcare reform
  • Health reform implementation
  • Health care cost control
  • American politics and public policy

Key Publications

Medicare for All—Running Down a Dream. Oberlander, J (2023). Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 48(3), 435-450.

The Ten Years’ War—Politics, Partisanship, and the Affordable Care Act. Oberlander, J. (2020). Health Affairs, 39(3), 1-8.

Navigating the Shifting Terrain of US Health Care Reform—Medicare for All, Single Payer, and the Public Option. Oberlander, J. (2019). Milbank Quarterly, 97(4), 483-510.

Technocratic Dreams, Political Realities: The Rise and Demise of Medicare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board. Oberlander, J. and S. Spivack. (2018). Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 43(3), 483-510.

The End of Obamacare. Oberlander, J. (2017). New England Journal of Medicine, 376(1), 1-3.

In the Affordable Care Act’s Shadow: The Fate of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Oberlander, J, D. Jones, S. Spivack, and P. Singer. (2016). Health Affairs, 35(10), 1835-1841.

Implementing the Affordable Care Act: The Promise and Limits of Health Care Reform. Oberlander, J. (2016). Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 41(4), 803-826.

Leap of Faith: Medicare’s New Physician Payment System. Oberlander, J. and M.J. Laugesen.  (2015). New England Journal of Medicine, 373(13), 1185-1187.

From HMOs to ACOs: The Quest for the Holy Grail in U.S. Health Policy. Marmor T. and J. Oberlander. (2012). Journal of General Internal Medicine, 27(9), 1215-18.

The Political Life of Medicare. Oberlander, J.  (2003). University of Chicago Press.


  • PhD, Political science, Yale University, 1995
  • MPhil, Political science, Yale University, 1993
  • MA, Political Science, Yale University, 1990
  • BA, Political science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1989