Julia Prentice, Ph.D.

March 14, 2012

Julia Prentice, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., is a health scientist with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Boston Healthcare System Research and Development in the Health Care Financing and Economics division. She is also an assistant professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health and School of Medicine. Her current research focuses on various aspects of health care financing, quality, and access for patients of the VA health system. 

Dr. Prentice received her Ph.D. and M.S.P.H. degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles and her B.A. from Grinnell College. Her work has been published in several peer-reviewed journals including Health Services Research, Journal of General Internal Medicine, American Journal of Managed Care, and Journal of Health Economics. She has presented her work at the VA Health Services Research and Development Annual Meeting, AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting, and the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting. 

From December 2007 to November 2009, Dr. Prentice was the principal investigator on a HCFO grant exploring the time/cost tradeoffs for individuals eligible for both VA health care and Medicare benefits. VA care is typically low to no-cost with longer waiting times, while Medicare-financed health care can usually be obtained more quickly, but with higher-out-of-pocket costs. Dr. Prentice and colleagues sought to discover how wait times would affect different financing options, particularly the decision to purchase Medicare supplemental (or Medigap) insurance. The results of this study, published in Journal of Health Economics, showed that a 10 percent increase in VA waiting times increases demand for Medigap insurance by five percent.  In other work related to this grant, Dr. Prentice examined the impact of waiting times on short and long-term health outcomes and primary care utilization in Medicare-eligible VA patients diagnosed with diabetes. Her results, published in American Journal of Managed Care and Health Services Research found that waiting times had modest effects on primary care utilization and glycated hemoglobin for the entire sample. Wait times did not significantly compromise long-term health outcomes in this population for the entire sample but older and more vulnerable veterans were at an increased risk of experiencing poor health outcomes due to longer waits.   

To learn more about Dr. Prentice’s work, please visit: http://www.hcfe.research.va.gov/julia_prentice.asp