A healthy understanding
MIT economics professor Amy Finkelstein has changed what we know about Medicaid, Medicare, the economics of health care — and, increasingly, medical care itself.
"Finkelstein's was an extremely important contribution to the policy debate, around what would happen if you added more insurance coverage. It was timely; it was right on the national agenda. It really had a very important impact on discussion on policies like the Affordable Care Act.”
— James M. Poterba, the Mitsui Professor of Economics at MIT
EXCERPT | TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | APRIL 15, 2020
"Back in 2008, Oregon health officials had enough money to let additional people join their state-run Medicaid system. They figured demand would exceed the number of spaces available, so the state ran a drawing: 90,000 people applied, and 10,000 were accepted.
"The unusual program seemed almost designed for Amy Finkelstein, PhD ’01, to study. Finkelstein, the John and Jennie S. MacDonald Professor of Economics, is a leading health economist and spends a significant amount of her time looking for new ideas and data. And this was a golden opportunity to study the impact of Medicaid, with a built-in control group.
"Suddenly in the know about a promising new research opportunity, Finkelstein set to work connecting with Oregon officials and health-economics colleagues. The defining feature of Finkelstein’s career is that she brings finely sharpened data points to health-care conversations that had been driven by mere assumptions. What difference does it make to people, medically and financially, when they get health insurance? What’s the financial impact of being hospitalized? What drives health-care costs: the decisions of doctors or the condition of patients? Time and again, Finkelstein has made such discussions more rigorous."