Katherine Swartz

Professor of Health Economics and Policy, Harvard School of Public Health
Chapter Member: Boston SSN
Areas of Expertise:

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About Katherine

Swartz is an expert on health policy with a PhD in Economics from the University of Wisconsin; her current research looks at Americans without health insurance and considers how coverage might be expanded. She is currently involved in two projects about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, probing how states can minimize gaps in coverage when people’s income fluctuates, and examining how states are adjusting insurance regulations for plans to be offered on the new health exchanges. Her research also focuses on the aging of the U.S. population, assessing ways to enhance community-based services for home-based care. Swartz served as President of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management in 2009, and was the 1991 recipient of that association’s David Kershaw Award for research done before the age of 40 that has had a significant impact on public policy. She was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2007, and has been a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance since 1999. Swartz speaks to civic groups interested in expanding health insurance, and has testified before Congressional and state legislative committees.


Debunking Common Myths about Health Reform

Debunking Myths about Medicaid - And Its Expansion

    Colleen M. Grogan Theda Skocpol ,

In the News

Opinion: "Here are the Real Medicaid 'Takers'," Katherine Swartz, CNBC, June 7, 2017.
Opinion: "ObamaCare Cures 'Job Lock'," Katherine Swartz (with Theda Skocpol), USA Today, February 6, 2014.
Opinion: "Implementing Insurance Exchanges - Lessons from Europe," Katherine Swartz (with Ewout van Ginneken), New England Journal of Medicine, August 23, 2012.
Opinion: "Ensure that Every American Has Health Insurance," Katherine Swartz, Newsweek, December 10, 2007.
Opinion: "Pro: Cure for the Uninsured," Katherine Swartz, BusinessWeek.com, June 11, 2007.
Opinion: "New Job, New Life, No Insurance," Katherine Swartz, The Boston Globe, September 12, 2006.
Opinion: "Big Health Savings for Small Businesses: A Safety Net for Insurers Could Put an End to Entrepreneurs’ Precariously High Premiums," Katherine Swartz, Fortune Small Business, October 2006.


"Challenges in an Aging Society – Presidential Address" Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 29, no. 2 (Spring 2010): 227-242.

Makes the case for greater government-led investments in education, physical infrastructure (particularly for transportation and electricity transmission), and alternative energy sources so the U.S. can maintain high levels of productivity in coming decades when more of the population will be 65 years old and older.

"Realizing Health Reform's Potential: Maintaining Coverage, Affordability, and Shared Responsibility When Income and Employment Change," (with Pamela F. Short, Namrata Uberoi, and Deborah R. Graefe), The Commonwealth Fund, May 2011.

Describes four policy challenges related to changes in life circumstances that could affect insurance coverage: adjusting premium and cost-sharing subsidies when incomes change; coordinating eligibility for premium credits, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program; encouraging and facilitating continuous coverage; and minimizing transitions between individual and small-business exchanges. Policy recommendations include extending coverage to the open enrollment period at the end of the year, generous treatment of income gains in correcting premium tax credits, and unifying the small-business and individual exchanges.

"Cost-Sharing: Effects on Spending and Outcomes,"

Synthesis Project Report No. 20

, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, December 2010.

Examines the research on the effects of patient cost-sharing on health care spending and health outcomes, and argues that increasing patient cost-sharing is unlikely to dramatically slow health care spending because half the population is responsible for only 3% of all health care spending. The people whose health care expenses put them in the top 10% of the population account for 70% of all health care spending – and their health expenses exceed common thresholds for limits on required cost-sharing.

"Health Care for the Poor: For Whom, What Care, and Whose Responsibility?" in Changing Poverty, Changing Policies, edited by Maria Cancian and Sheldon Danziger (Russell Sage Foundation, 2009).
Documents the history of government programs designed to provide assistance with health care expenses for poor people – starting with programs that preceded Medicaid and going through to the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Community Health Centers. Efforts to reign in federal and state spending, as well as expansions of eligibility, are described. Concludes with a brief review of groups of poor people who are not helped by Medicaid and other programs – some of whom will be eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
"Uninsured in America: New Realities, New Risks" in Health at Risk: America’s Ailing Health System – and How to Heal It, edited by Jacob Hacker (Columbia University Press and the SSRC, 2008).
Provides a summary of who lacks health insurance and reasons why, and then provides a blueprint for how the number of uninsured can be reduced. Most of the suggestions are embedded in the Affordable Care Act.
"Reinsuring Health: Why More Middle-Class People are Uninsured and What Government Can Do" (Russell Sage Foundation, 2006).
Documents the contraction of employer-based coverage and other reasons why middle-income as well as low-income Americans are losing affordable health insurance coverage.