Austin Frakt, Ph.D.

Austin Frakt.jpg
May 20, 2011

Austin Frakt, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of health policy and management at Boston University School of Public Health. Dr. Frakt also serves as a Health Economist in Health Care Financing & Economics (HCFE) at the Boston VA Healthcare System. His research interests include the interaction between economics and health care policy in the United States, Medicare, and veteran services, with a focus on the demand-side of health care markets and policy. 

Dr. Frakt has conducted research studies funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. His work has been widely published in Health Affairs, Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Health Economics, and most recently, Milbank Quarterly. In addition to peer-reviewed literature, Dr. Frakt is a regular contributor to Kaiser Health News and has written for the New York Times’ Room for Debate forum. He also writes a popular economics blog called The Incidental Economist

Dr. Frakt received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in statistical and applied mathematics and computer science. He also received a master’s degree from MIT, and his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Applied and Engineering Physics. From 2004 through 2006, Dr. Frakt served as the co-principal investigator on a HCFO-funded study alongside Steven Pizer, Ph.D., of the Boston VA Research Institute, and Roger Feldman, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota, that modeled the market entry and exit behavior of health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs). The goal of this work was to inform federal policymakers as they prepared for the implementation of Medicare Advantage. 

Frakt served as a senior staff member on another HCFO-funded study, led by Pizer, which examined Medicare payment policy and its potential effects on private health plans. He compiled an extensive review of the literature on cost-shifting with regards to Medicare published in the March 2011 issue of Milbank Quarterly. The details of that publication are outlined in this month’s findings brief. 

For more information on Dr. Frakt’s continued work, visit