Alan Sager

Professor, Health Policy & Management School of Public Health

Alan Sager specialized in health in graduate school because it looked like the easiest sector in which to win affordable equity for all Americans since so much money was already spent on medical care. (Not easy-just easier than anything else.) His main interests are health reform, combining universal coverage with cost control, improving both finance and delivery, and preserving needed physician, hospital, and long-term care services. He has studied causes and effects of urban hospital closings, finding a strong and persistent link between race of the people living near a hospital and the probability of closing. Hospital efficiency doesn’t predicts survival. With his fellow-director of the Health Reform Program, Deborah Socolar ’89, he has investigated the sources of high health costs in Massachusetts and designed methods to cover all uninsured residents without increasing spending.

During the past decade, he and Debbie have studied the causes of high U.S. pharmaceutical prices. They have designed a “prescription drug peace treaty” that fully covers all Americans at a small added cost, while protecting and energizing drug makers’ innovative research. They found that the 2003 Medicare law providing a drug benefit would boost drug makers’ profits by one-third because it failed to constrain prices meaningfully. Alan designed a “time banking” method of mobilizing voluntary help for people with disabilities. By creating a market for good deeds, it allows volunteers to help others when convenient. Time would be banked.  Former volunteers who themselves needed help could trade their banked time for help from a new volunteer. Policy and research interests include equal access to health care, cost control, hospital survival, long-term care, health reform.  Alan holds a B.A. in economics from Brandeis and a Ph.D. in city and regional planning (specializing in health care) from MIT.