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Jessica Mulligan

Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management, Providence College
Areas of Expertise:
  • Health Care
  • Public Health

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About Jessica

Mulligan is a medical anthropologist whose research focuses on health policy. She has conducted long-term ethnographic projects on the privatization of the public health system in Puerto Rico and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the United States. Her current research explores insurance, financial security, and political resentment from the perspective of the newly insured and those who continue to lack coverage in the states of Florida and Rhode Island. She is particularly interested in understanding why many people who would ostensibly be helped by health reform, do not support the law. Her work explores themes such as managerialism in health care, how consumers experience health care choices, and the ways in which health reforms intersect with processes of social stratification.  

In the News

"Bringing Paper Towels to a Flood," Jessica Mulligan (with Adriana Garriga-López), The Huffington Post,
"With Attention Elsewhere, Healthcare for Millions Quietly Still at Risk," Jessica Mulligan (with Heide Castañeda and Mark Schuller), Huffpost, June 2, 2017.
"The “Anecdote” Insult, or, Why Health Policy Needs Stories," Jessica Mulligan (with Emily K. Brunson), Medical Anthropology Quarterly, March 7, 2017.

Publications

"Insurance Accounts: The Cultural Logics of Health Care Financing" Medical Anthropology Quarterly 30, no. 1 (2014).

Argues that financial techniques obfuscate how much health care costs, foster widespread gaming of reimbursement systems that drives up prices, and “unpool” risk by devolving financial and moral responsibility for health care onto individual consumers

"Mere Mortals: Overselling the Young Invincibles" (with Deborah Levine). Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 42, no. 2 (2017): 387-407.

Traces the emergence of the term “young invincible” in health policy literature, the health insurance industry, and popular media. 

"The Problem of Choice: From the Voluntary Way to Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Exchanges" Social Science & Medicine 181 (2017): 34-42.

Takes a genealogical and ethnographic approach to the problem of choice, arguing that what choice means has been reworked several times since health insurance first figured prominently in national debates about health reform. 

Unmanageable Care (New York University Press, 2014).

Chronicles how the privatization of the health care system in Puerto Rico transformed the experience of accessing and providing care on the island.