I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Public Policy at UNC-Chapel Hill (PhD expected Spring 2017). My research field is applied microeconomics with a specialization in health and labor policy. Broadly, I am interested in the demand for health insurance and the economics of substance use and mental health disorders. My dissertation research contributes to the understanding of how taxes and government mandates affect private health insurance coverage and the indirect consequences on earnings. I also examine the economic consequences of public and private policies addressing substance use and mental health disorders. My research uses quasi-experimental methods to examine both average and heterogeneous policy effects.
Two essays of my dissertation focus on the effectiveness of premium tax credits introduced as part of recent health care reform efforts. The third essay examines how employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) affects the earnings distribution. All three essays use the Current Population Survey (CPS) March Supplement. Together, my dissertation indicates that reducing reliance on ESI may have beneficial effects on earnings and that tax credits provide an alternative mechanism to increasing non-ESI coverage.
Dissertation paper #3: Disentangling the effects of employer-sponsored health insurance on the United States earnings distribution
My other research interests focus on the economics of substance abuse and mental health. While earning my PhD at UNC, I have also been a Research Economist at RTI International and serve as the Associate Project Director for the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) cross-site evaluation. SBIRT is public health approach to reduce risky substance use. My published work on SBIRT has focused on the financing of SBIRT services and the impacts of SBIRT on downstream health care costs. Moving forward, I am investigating how ACA policies that promote integrated general and behavioral health care service delivery, such as SBIRT, affect insurance design, health care costs, and broader measures of health. In addition, several federal behavioral health policies, such at the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, were enacted concurrently to the ACA. I am working on methods to separate these other policy effects from the broader ACA.
Another line of research focuses on the effects of behavioral health on labor market outcomes. I have a paper under review that is modeling the interaction between alcohol use and human capital formation in young adults and its effect on wages. I also have several papers under review and in-progress from an NIH randomized control trial examining the effects of workplace initiative to reduce stress on employee performance and health.
My other past research experience at RTI also includes evaluations of criminal justice programs, programs that serve homeless populations, and mental health financing. I have worked on NIH grants and federally and state-funded contracts and have extensive grant and proposal writing experience. In the course of these projects, I have successfully collaborated with academic and nonacademic institutions across a variety of disciplines. Beyond my econometric skill set, I have developed surveys, collected primary data, worked with various secondary data sources.