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Sharon Willcox

1999–2000 Harkness Fellow; Director, Health Policy Solutions

Sharon Willcox, Dr.P.H., a 1999–2000 Harkness Fellow, is the director of Health Policy Solutions, an independent health consulting company in Australia. She is also Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at Monash University. Willcox was one of 10 people appointed in 2008 by the Australian prime minister to the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, which was charged with developing a long-term reform plan for the Australian health care system. Many of the Commission’s recommendations, including new models for integrating and funding primary care, are now being implemented by the Australian government. Willcox is coauthor of The Australian Health Care System (5th ed.), published in 2015.

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

  • Commissioner, National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (appointed by Prime Minister), 2008 to 2009
  • Director, Health Policy Solutions, 2005 onwards
  • Director, Strategy and Performance Reporting, Victorian Department of Human Services, 2002
  • Assistant Director of Commonwealth State Policy, Victoria Department of Human Services, 2000
  • Chief Policy Consultant, NSW Health, 2000

Current Position: Director, Health Policy Solutions. (Updated 1/2014)

E-Mail: [email protected]


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 20, no. 3 (May/June 2001): 152–61.

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.