Ashley Swanson

Ashley Swanson
  • Assistant Professor of Health Care Management

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    3641 Locust Walk
    306 Colonial Penn Center
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: industrial organization, health economics, public economics, education

Links: CV

Overview

An applied microeconomist, Professor Swanson’s research focuses primarily on the economics of health care. In particular, she studies the effects of industrial organization and information on choices, costs, and health outcomes. Her recent work has examined the effect of physician ownership on health care quality and provider incentives; the effects of lack of transparency and other frictions on negotiations between hospitals and suppliers; the effects of complex prices and payments from pharmaceutical firms on prescription drug utilization and prices; and the effects of insurers’ provider and pharmacy networks on prices.

Professor Swanson also studies the factors affecting high achievement in secondary education. Recent work includes studies on gender disparities and school quality.

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Research

  • Ashley Swanson, Aaron Chatterji, Matthew Grennan, Kyle Myers, Welfare Effects of Physician-industry Interactions: Evidence from Patent Expiration.

  • Ashley Swanson, Stuart Craig, Matthew Grennan (Working), Mergers and Hospital Costs: New Evidence from Hospital Input Markets.

  • Ashley Swanson and Amanda Starc (Working), What Do Private Firms Bring to the (Bargaining) Table? Vertical Structure and Negotiated Prices of Generic Pharmaceuticals.

  • Ashley Swanson and Matthew Grennan (Working), Quantifying the Sources of Price Dispersion: Evidence from Hospital Procurement.

  • Heidi Allen, Ashley Swanson, Jialan Wang, Tal Gross (2017), Early Medicaid Expansion Reduced Payday Borrowing in California, Health Affairs, 36 (10).

    Abstract: We examined the impact of California’s early Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act on the use of payday loans, a form of high-interest borrowing used by low- and middle-income Americans. Using a data set for the period 2009–13 (roughly twenty-four months before and twenty-four months after the 2011–12 Medicaid expansion) that covered the universe of payday loans from five large payday lenders with locations around the United States, we used a difference-in-differences research design to assess the effect of the expansion on payday borrowing, comparing trends in early-expansion counties in California to those in counties nationwide that did not expand early. The early Medicaid expansion was associated with an 11 percent reduction in the number of loans taken out each month. It also reduced the number of unique borrowers each month and the amount of payday loan debt. We were unable to determine precisely how and for whom the expansion reduced payday borrowing, since to our knowledge, no data exist that directly link payday lending to insurance status. Nonetheless, our results suggest that Medicaid reduced the demand for high-interest loans and improved the financial health of American families.

  • Daniel Polsky, Zuleyha Cidav, Ashley Swanson (2016), Marketplace Plans with Narrow Physician Networks Feature Lower Monthly Premiums than Plans with Larger Networks, Health Affairs, 35 (10), pp. 1842-1848.

  • Ashley Swanson and Matthew Grennan (Forthcoming), Transparency and Negotiated Prices: The Value of Information in Hospital-Supplier Bargaining.

    Abstract: Using a detailed dataset of hospitals’ purchase orders, we find that information on purchasing by peer hospitals leads to reductions in the prices hospitals negotiate for supplies. Identification is based on staggered access to information across hospitals over time. Within coronary stents, reductions are concentrated among hospitals previously paying relatively high prices and for brands purchased in large volumes, and are consistent with resolving asymmetric information problems. Estimates across a large number of other important product categories indicate that the effects of information are largest in both absolute and relative terms for physician preference items (PPIs). Among PPIs, high-price, high-quantity hospital-brand combinations average 3.9 percent savings, versus 1.6 percent for commodities  

  • Glenn Ellison and Ashley Swanson (2016), Do Schools Matter for High Math Achievement? Evidence from the American Mathematics Competitions, American Economic Reivew, 106 (6), pp. 1244-1277.

  • Jason Abaluck, Ashley Swanson, Jonathan Gruber (Forthcoming), Prescription Drug Use under Medicare Part D: A Linear Model of Nonlinear Budget Sets.

    Abstract: Medicare Part D enrollees face a complicated decision problem: they must dynamically choose prescription drug consumption in each period given difficult-to-find prices and a non-linear budget set. We use Medicare Part D claims data from 2006-2009 to estimate a flexible model of consumption that accounts for non-linear budget sets, dynamic incentives due to myopia and uncertainty, and price salience. By using variation away from kink points, we are able to estimate structural models with a linear regression of consumption on coverage range prices. We then compare performance under several candidate models of expectations and coverage phase weighting. The estimates suggest small marginal price elasticities and substantial myopia; we also find evidence that salient plan characteristics impact consumption beyond their effect on out-of-pocket prices. A hyperbolic discounting model which allows for salient plan characteristics fits the data well, and outperforms both rational models and alternative behavioral models.

  • Mark V. Pauly and Ashley Swanson (Forthcoming), Social Impact Bonds in Nonprofit Health Care: New Product or New Package?.

    Abstract: Considers a relatively new form of financing for social services, the "Social Impact Bond." Proponents of Social Impact Bonds argue that they present a solution to several problems in funding social services, including performance measurement and the distribution of risk. Using a simple model, we demonstrate that Social Impact Bonds have many features present in standard financing arrangements. They will lead to greater program success when investors’ effort can positively influence outcomes, but are unlikely to do so otherwise. We conclude that the value of this funding innovation will be strongly context-dependent.

Teaching

2017-present:  The Economics of Health Care and Policy (PhD), Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
2012-present:  Cost-Benefit and Cost-Effectiveness Analysis (PhD), Health Care Strategy and Management: The Business of Health Care (UG), The Nonprofit Sector:
Economic Challenges and Strategic Responses (UG), Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
2014-2015:  Economics of Healthcare Service Delivery (MBA), Financing and Paying for Health Care (MBA), Economics and Management of the Biopharmaceuticals
Industry (MBA), Indian School of Business
2010-2012:  Advanced Topics in Industrial Organization (TA) (PhD), Industrial Organization and Competitive Strategy (TA) (UG), MIT

Current Courses

  • BEPP214 - Nonprofit Sector: Econom

    The nonprofit sector plays a key role in the provision of many goods and services which are fundamental in our society and which may be difficult to provide using market mechanisms alone. Education, health care, charitable services, and the arts are some primary examples of these. Nonprofit organizations operate in service of specific social missions rather than profit maximization, but in order to serve those missions effectively while ensuring their own survival, they must also make many of the decisions typically associated with private firms. That is, they must compete for funding, human resources, and consumers of their services, they must manage and invest their resources efficiently, and they must innovate new products and services over time. Importantly, the latter requirements may at times come in conflict with the organizations' social values. As a result, nonprofit organizations as economic decision-makers confront a number of unique challenges to their success and growth. The goal of this course is to give students a broad overview of the economic, organizational, and strategic concerns facing the non-profit sector. Our objective is to characterize the unique economic environment, identify effective strategic governance, and management approaches, and explore how appropriate measurement techniques can can inform the policy treatment of nonprofits. This course is organized around a number of lectures, readings and outside speakers, a midterm exam and a required project.

    BEPP214001 ( Syllabus )

  • HCMG903 - Econ Hlth Cr & Policy

    This course applies basic economic concepts to analyze the health care market and evaluate health policies. The course begins with an analysis of the demand for health, the derived demand for medical care and the demand for health insurance. The second part of the course examines the supply of medical care by physicians and hospitals, medical technology, and the role of managed care organizations. The implication of adverse selection, moral hazard, externalities, and asymmetric information will be explored. The third part of the course examines the rationale for government intervention in medical markets as well as the effectiveness and efficiency of various health policies, including: Medicare, Medicaid, price regulation of hospitals, physician payment reform, medical malpractice, uncompensated care, and physician manpower planning.

    HCMG903001

Past Courses

  • BEPP214 - NONPROFIT SECTOR: ECONOM

    The nonprofit sector plays a key role in the provision of many goods and services which are fundamental in our society and which may be difficult to provide using market mechanisms alone. Education, health care, charitable services, and the arts are some primary examples of these. Nonprofit organizations operate in service of specific social missions rather than profit maximization, but in order to serve those missions effectively while ensuring their own survival, they must also make many of the decisions typically associated with private firms. That is, they must compete for funding, human resources, and consumers of their services, they must manage and invest their resources efficiently, and they must innovate new products and services over time. Importantly, the latter requirements may at times come in conflict with the organizations' social values. As a result, nonprofit organizations as economic decision-makers confront a number of unique challenges to their success and growth. The goal of this course is to give students a broad overview of the economic, organizational, and strategic concerns facing the non-profit sector. Our objective is to characterize the unique economic environment, identify effective strategic governance, and management approaches, and explore how appropriate measurement techniques can can inform the policy treatment of nonprofits. This course is organized around a number of lectures, readings and outside speakers, a midterm exam and a required project.

  • HCMG213 - HC MGMT&STRAT

    This course presents an overview of the business of health and how a variety of health care organizations have gained, sustained, and lost competitive advantage amidst intense competition, widespread regulation, high interdependence, and massive technological, economic, social and political changes. Specifically, we evaluate the challenges facing health care organizations using competitive analysis, identify their past responses, and explore the current strategies they are using to manage these challenges (and emerging ones) more effectively. Students will develop generalized skills in competitive analysis and the ability to apply those skills in the specialized analysis of opportunities in producer (e.g. biopharmaceutical, medical product, information technology), purchaser (e.g. insurance), and provider (e.g. hospitals, nursing homes, physician) organizations and industry sectors. The course is organized around a number of readings, cases, presentations, and a required project.

  • HCMG901 - SEM:HLTH CARE COST BEN

    The purpose of this doctoral level course is to investigate the theory and practice of cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis as applied to health care. The three techniques to be examined are cost-effectiveness analysis with single dimensional outcomes, cost effectiveness analysis with multiple attributes (especially in the form of Quality Adjusted Life Years), and economic cost-benefit analysis. Valuation of mortality and morbidity relative to other goods will be emphasized. Students will be expected to develop written critiques of articles in the literature, and to design a new application of one of the techniques as a term project.

  • HCMG903 - ECON HLTH CR & POLICY

    This course applies basic economic concepts to analyze the health care market and evaluate health policies. The course begins with an analysis of the demand for health, the derived demand for medical care and the demand for health insurance. The second part of the course examines the supply of medical care by physicians and hospitals, medical technology, and the role of managed care organizations. The implication of adverse selection, moral hazard, externalities, and asymmetric information will be explored. The third part of the course examines the rationale for government intervention in medical markets as well as the effectiveness and efficiency of various health policies, including: Medicare, Medicaid, price regulation of hospitals, physician payment reform, medical malpractice, uncompensated care, and physician manpower planning.

Awards and Honors

  • NSF Grant “Empirical Analysis of Business-to-Business Bargaining: Evidence from Hospital Input Markets” (Co-PI with Matt Grennan), 2016-2019
  • Faculty Affiliate, Wharton Public Policy Initiative, University of Pennsylvania, 2013
  • Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania, 2012
  • Wolpow Family Endowed Faculty Scholar Award, 2015-2016
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology Presidential Fellowship, 2007-2009
  • Ida M. Green Fellowship, 2007-2008

In the News

Knowledge @ Wharton

Activity

Latest Research

Ashley Swanson, Aaron Chatterji, Matthew Grennan, Kyle Myers, Welfare Effects of Physician-industry Interactions: Evidence from Patent Expiration.
All Research

In the News

How Public-private Partnerships Can Boost Innovation in Health Care

Complexity, increasingly complex technologies and rapidly changing disease patterns make institutional partnerships for health care construction projects more viable.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2017/10/26
All News

Awards and Honors

NSF Grant “Empirical Analysis of Business-to-Business Bargaining: Evidence from Hospital Input Markets” (Co-PI with Matt Grennan) 2016
All Awards