Daniel Polsky

Daniel Polsky
  • Professor of Medicine; Professor of Health Management

Contact Information


  • Amelia Bond, William Pajerowski, Daniel Polsky, Michael Richards (2017), Market Environment and Medicaid Acceptance: What influences the access gap?, Health Economics.

    Abstract: The U.S. health care system is undergoing significant changes. Two prominent shifts include millions added to Medicaid and greater integration and consolidation among firms. We empirically assess if these two industry trends may have implications for each other. Using experimentally derived (“secret shopper”) data on primary care physicians' real-world behavior, we observe their willingness to accept new privately insured and Medicaid patients across 10 states. We combine this measure of patient acceptance with detailed information on physician and commercial insurer market structure and show that insurer and provider concentration are each positively associated with relative improvements in appointment availability for Medicaid patients. The former is consistent with a smaller price discrepancy between commercial and Medicaid patients and suggests a beneficial spillover from greater insurer market power. The findings for physician concentration do not align with a simple price bargaining explanation but do appear driven by physician firms that are not vertically integrated with a health system. These same firms also tend to rely more on nonphysician clinical staff.

  • 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.

    Abstract: The introduction of health insurance Marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act has been associated with growth of restricted provider networks. The value of this plan design strategy, including its association with lower premiums, is uncertain. We used data from all silver plans offered in the 2014 health insurance exchanges in the fifty states and the District of Columbia to estimate the association between the breadth of a provider network and plan premiums. We found that within a market, for plans of otherwise equivalent design and controlling for issuer-specific pricing strategy, a plan with an extra-small network had a monthly premium that was 6.7 percent less expensive than that of a plan with a large network. Because narrow networks remain an important strategy available to insurance companies to offer lower-cost plans on health insurance Marketplaces, the success of health insurance coverage expansions may be tied to the successful implementation of narrow networks.

  • Daniel Polsky, Guy David, Bruce Kinosian, Jianing Yang, Rachel M. Werner (2014), The Effect of Entry Regulation in the Health Care Sector: the Case of Home Health, Journal of Public Economics.

  • Rachel Werner, Jonathan Kolstad, Elizabeth Stuart, Daniel Polsky (2013), The Effect of Pay for Performance in Hospitals: Lessons for Quality Improvement, Health Affairs, 30 (4), pp. 690-698.

    Abstract: The payment approach known as “pay-for-performance” has been widely adopted with the aim of improving the quality of health care. Nonetheless, little is known about how to use the approach most effectively to improve care. We examined the effects in 260 hospitals of a pay-for-performance demonstration project carried out by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in partnership with Premier Inc., a nationwide hospital system. We compared these results to those of a control group of 780 hospitals not in the demonstration project. The performance of the hospitals in the project initially improved more than the performance of the control group: More than half of the pay-for performance hospitals achieved high performance scores, compared to fewer than a third of the control hospitals. However, after five years, the two groups’ scores were virtually identical. Improvements were largest among hospitals that were eligible for larger bonuses, were well financed, or operated in less competitive markets. These findings suggest that tailoring pay-for-performance programs to hospitals’ specific situations could have the greatest effect on health care quality.

  • K. Armstrong, TC Randall, Daniel Polsky, E Moye, Jeffrey H. Silber (2011), Racial differences in surgeons and hospitals for endometrial cancer treatment, Med Care, 49(2):207-14.


Past Courses


    The course begins with an extensive discussion of models of labor market demand and supply. The rest of the course addresses a variety of related topics including the school -to-work transition, job training, employee benefits, the role of labor unions, discrimination, workforce diversity, poverty, and public policy.


    These are a series of tutorial sessions conducted by the student's advisor, which are to support the student's efforts in developing a research protocol, designing a designing a research project, and completing the study.


    This introductory course takes a policy and politics angle to health care's three persistent issues - access, cost and quality. The roles of patients, physicians, hospitals, insurers, and pharmaceutical companies will be established. The interaction between the government and these different groups will also be covered. Current national health care policy initiatives and the interests of class members will steer the specific topics covered in the course. The course aims to provide skills for critical and analytical thought about the U.S. health care system and the people in it. No pass/fail. Grade only.


    This course will cover empirical methods used in economics research with an emphasis on applications in health care and public economics. The methods covered include linear regression, matching, panel data models, instumental variables, regression discontinuity, bunching, qualitative and limited dependent variable models, count data, quantile regressions, and duration models. the discussion will be a mix of theory and application, with emphasis on the latter. The readings consist of a blend of classic and recent methodological and empirical papers in economics. Course requirements include several problem sets, paper presentations, an econometric analysis project and a final exam. The course is open to doctoral students from departments other than Health Care Management with permission from the instructor.


    Empirical research for health care policy frequently involves the analysis of observational data--information that is not primarily collected for research purposes. With the rapid increase in U.S. health information technology capacity, future opportunities for research using these "secondary data" appear promising. The objective of this course is to teach the skills necessary to conduct quality health policy research using secondary data. These skills include formulating research aims and applying appropriate study designs for achieving these aims. The course will also include a survey of the content and structure of several commonly used administrative and public databases available to researchers and workshops to develop the skills to access and manipulate these valuable resources.

  • HPR 951 - HPR THESIS I

    Each student completes a mentored research project that includes a thesis proposal and a thesis committee and results in a publishable scholarly product.

In the News

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Latest Research

Amelia Bond, William Pajerowski, Daniel Polsky, Michael Richards (2017), Market Environment and Medicaid Acceptance: What influences the access gap?, Health Economics.
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In the News

Why Some Insurance Plans Limit Specialized Treatments

Many health insurance plans deny life-saving treatments -- such as those from National Cancer Institute-designated sites. But most consumers don't realize it.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2017/07/25
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