Austin Frakt

Health Economist
Founder, Editor and Contributor,
The Incidental Economist
Contributor, The New York Times

An expert look at the economics of healthcare

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Healthcare organizations turn for advice to Austin Frakt as the go-to expert on US healthcare economics, drawing on his talent for informing health policy and market issues of the day to the latest research.

A leader in the field of health economics, Austin is the creator, an Editor-in-Chief, and a primary contributor to The Incidental Economist, the influential website and blog that serves to communicate health policy research in a way that is broadly accessible and policy relevant. The website is a widely-recognized as a trusted resource for researchers, policymakers, corporate and government officials, as well as the media.

With a mission to explain and disseminate health economics, policy, and health services research — including his own — Austin is an experienced and effective participant in social media as well a contributor to popular and scholarly print publications. As an active blogger, he posts to numerous publications besides his own, including The New York Times, the AcademyHealth blog, and the JAMA Forum. He has also been a guest on NPR’s Morning Edition.

His work has appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, Health Affairs, Health Care Financing Review, Health Economics, Health Services Research, International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics, Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, and many others.

Austin Frakt can speak on a wide range of health policy and economic topics, including but not limited to: competition and consumer choice in health care and health insurance markets; innovation and investment in health care technology; productivity in health care (cost, quality, efficiency); the state and future of the Affordable Care Act; and more. In addition, he can draw on his success in dissemination of health policy relevant research via social media to speak on how social media can be used to reach a wide audience.


"Austin Frakt, founder of the best blog devoted to health-policy research, has shown himself uniquely skilled at explaining how the best academic work applies to the health-care sector's toughest problems. His readers — myself included — have learned much from him, and so will you."
— Ezra Klein, Editor-in-Chief, Vox

"Austin Frakt, tireless impresario of the Incidental Economist, has a remarkable ability to cut through technical complexities and the partisan fog. One of the best in the business, he is an essential voice in health policy."
— Harold Pollack, Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, and faculty chair of the Center for Health Administration Studies

"I have heard Austin Frakt speak at a variety of venues with audiences of varying exposure to health policy and knowledge of the health system. In all cases, he successfully conveys complex information in an understandable way, with attention to important detail that is often overlooked by the media. He has a knack for distilling complicated concepts into an informative and entertaining presentation. Dr. Frakt's true strength is his unparalleled knowledge of all things related to the health care system."
— Karoline Mortensen, Assistant Professor of Health Services Administration, University of Maryland College Park

"It takes a special kind of economist to understand the dysfunctional health care marketplace, where pricing is opaque, disintermediation is the rule and patients - the 'buy side' - have almost no information on which to make informed judgments about quality and value. Austin Frakt understands why the health care marketplace doesn't work."
— Merrill Goozner, Editor, Modern Health


  • Associate Professor of Health Policy & Management, Boston University School of Public Health
  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Adjunct Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute, University of Pennsylvania
  • Health Economist, Health Care Financing & Economics, VA Boston Healthcare System,
  • John M. Eisenberg Article-of-the-Year in Health Services Research
  • PhD, Electrical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • MS, Electrical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • BS, Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University


Microeconomics Made Simple

Basic Microeconomic Principles Explained in 100 Pages or Less

Austin Frakt and Mike Piper

Simple Subjects, LLC (May 18, 2014)


Austin tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

What do consumers want in health plan choices?

The trend in health insurance markets is for more plan choices, reflecting the ambition for greater consumer-directed care. But do we really know what choices Americans want and how well they can shop among plans? In this talk, Dr. Frakt addresses these questions using the latest research and drawing from his own, personal experience. He illuminates what consumers claim to be seeking in health care plans and the ways they fail to make rational choices in today's market.

The US Health Care Crisis — Further Reform is Inevitable

Using plain language and clear graphics, Dr. Frakt explores the current state of healthcare in America, and its looming financial and care crisis, and some possible solutions. As he points out, the problems are systemic, and not attributable just to government or private sector policies. While the Affordable Care Act addresses some of the issues, more work is needed to make care accessible, affordable, and effective for all Americans.

Social Media for Health Care Researchers and Experts

Great work is being done by healthcare researchers, but much of their findings never reach key stakeholders in the private sector, policy makers, or government officials. In order to increase the reach and impact of research, social media must be utilized. By connecting research to current policy debates through blogging or social media strategies, experts can help influence the debate and impact policy outcomes. Dr. Frakt shows how to use social media to communicate research to stakeholders, primarily policymakers and media.

Does Medicare Have a Future?

Growth in Medicare spending is the principal reason for long-term concern about federal debt. Various proposals to rein Medicare spending have been made recently, including premium support and raising the Medicare eligibility age. In this talk, Dr. Frakt explains the key aspects of these proposals, how they may or may not address healthcare spending, their advantages and limitations. He concludes with predictions about the future Medicare policy landscape.

What’s Wrong with Healthcare

There are many sources of health system inefficiency. Among them, two stand out: (1) it responds poorly to patients' needs and values and (2) it is slow to react to new medical evidence on disease, treatment, and outcomes. The result is that the system fails patients at critical times in their lives while piling on expenses. Dr Frakt discusses these issues and what can be done about them.

Health care cost control: truth and consequences

The Affordable Care Act reduces Medicare payments to hospitals. How they respond could affect quality of care and premiums paid by others. Will employers and private policyholders pay more to make up the difference? Will hospitals become more efficient, improving performance and health care outcomes? Claims differ. In this talk I reveal the truth and spell out the consequences, all informed by research.


IHPI Seminar | UM HealthSystems

Part 1: Yet another proposal to scrap Obamacare: A discussion with Austin Frakt |

Social Media as Scholar's Tool


Comments from a health policy event at a prominent health institute:

"Loved, loved, LOVED Austin Frakt's presentation. ... I thought his entire presentation was insightful, informative, but not too complicated to follow through."

"Austin Frakt was an excellent presenter. He used simple words and had few slides."

"Frakt was great - challenging, provocative & informative."

"Dr. Frakt was thought provoking and a great presenter."


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— Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
— The Browser