Harkness Project Title: Promoting Accountability in Private Health Insurance through Consumer Complaints
Mentors: Judith Feder, Ph.D. and Karen Pollitz, PhD., Institute for Health Care Research & Policy, Georgetown University
Placement: Institute for Health Care Research and Policy, Georgetown University
Biography at time of Harkness Fellowship: Sharon M. Willcox, a 1999–2000 Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy, is manager of Intergovernmental Relations in Victoria’s Department of Human Services, where she negotiates positions for major Commonwealth-State agreements. Previously she was a visiting scholar at the Center for National Health Program Studies at Harvard Medical School, and examined uncompensated care with the Boston-based consumer advocacy group, Health Care For All. In the early 1990’s, Willcox was principal policy analyst for the National Health Strategy, a two-year review of the Australian health care system under the direction of Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister. She has also overseen Victoria’s quality, safety and financial solvency regulation for more than 100 private hospitals and produced the Patient Charter which explained patient rights in public hospitals. Her publications have focused on the benefits of universal public insurance, health insurance reform, gaps in the health care safety net and the role of government in regulating private hospitals.
Project: Willcox’s study sought to identify the agencies responsible for consumer complaints about health insurance and the availability of complaints data, to review the status of complaints "report cards,” and to analyze complaints data as a tool in understanding the implementation of patient protections. She focused on six states (California, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont), conducting interviews with state officials and staff of ombudsman programs involved in managing complaints and/or the production of report cards.
Career Activity Since Fellowship
Current Position: Director, Health Policy Solutions. (Updated 1/2014)
Duckett, Stephen and Sharon Willcox (2011),The Australian Health Care System (fourth edition), Oxford University Press: South Melbourne.
Willcox, Sharon et al., "Measuring and Reducing Waiting Times: Cross-National Comparison Of Strategies," Health Affairs 2007; 26(4): 1078–1087.
Willcox S. "Tensions in private health insurance regulation," Journal of Law and Medicine 2003 February; 10(3): 325–338.
Willcox S. "Promoting private health insurance in Australia," Health Affairs 2001 May/June;20(3):152–161.
Willcox S. "Consumer protection in private health insurance—the role of consumer complaints," Report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Contract No. HHS-100-97-0005, June 2000.