William Encinosa, PhD

    • June 1, 2006

Position: Economist
PhD from the University of Florida, 1995
Cohort 2 (1995–1997): University of Michigan

Position as of January 2006
Senior Economist
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
United States Department of Health and Human Services
Rockville, Md.
(301) 427-1437

When William Encinosa received his doctorate from the University of Florida in 1995, President Clinton's health care reform initiative was prominent on the national policy agenda. Encinosa had been interested in health, and his dissertation examined how financial incentives might work in health care markets, but he had not taken health courses and felt he did not know much about the health field. He saw the Robert Wood Johnson Scholars in Health Policy Research program as an opportunity to learn about the health sector and apply his economic skills to hotly debated health-related topics. He joined the program in 1995 at the University of Michigan where, in addition to the program's basic curriculum, he attended workshops on epidemiology.

Encinosa's research while he was a Scholar concentrated on three topics. He examined how financial incentives to physicians and the organizational structures within which physicians provided care affected physician productivity. He also looked at whether health maintenance organizations that had exclusive contracts with physicians were in compliance with antitrust legislation. And he studied innovative approaches to patient cost sharing, examining different ways that patient co-payments for health care might be structured. While in the program, Encinosa wrote an article, "Competition Among Health Maintenance Organizations," which was published in the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy. He also authored a National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper, "The Sociology of Groups and the Economics of Incentives: Theory and Evidence on Medical Group Practices."

After leaving the program, Encinosa accepted a position with the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Because he works for a government agency, Encinosa's research is both health- and policy-oriented. His current research interests include the impact of financial pressures on hospital patient safety; the costs of medical errors; and the impact of patient co-payments on their compliance with prescription medication regimens. He continues to write journal articles and book chapters related to economics and health, including chapters on economic evaluation methods and clinical decision analysis in a book by Alan B. Cohen and Ruth S. Hanft, Technology in American Health Care: Policy Directions for Effective Evaluation and Management, published by the University of Michigan Press in 2004.

Encinosa credits the Scholars program with exposing him to a wide range of experts and focusing his work in the health field. "I am now a researcher in health economics and health policy," he says. "If I had not entered the program, I would be studying the economics of the telecommunications sector, most likely."