Sarah Gordon


Sarah Gordon, a 2019 Program graduate in Health Services Research successfully defended her dissertation titled "Continuity of Health Insurance under the Affordable Care Act: Evidence from Public and Private Markets in Colorado and Utah." A multiple award winner during her time at Brown, Sarah enjoyed the distinction of being honored with the 2018 AcademyHealth Alice S. Hersh Student Scholarship, the 2017 Dissertation Fellowship from the Agency for Healthcare Research (R36) and the 2016 Nora Kahn Piore Award.


Tell us about your time at Brown. What did you enjoy most about being a doctoral student here?

What stands out to me most about my time as a doctoral student at Brown is the quality of the faculty mentorship. I learned so much from collaborating on projects with faculty members and benefited greatly from the breadth of their expertise. I always felt like my mentors were very generous with their time and were genuinely invested in my success. The students in the HSR program are all amazing as well! People come in with different backgrounds and skills to share and there are tons of structured opportunities to learn and support one another.

What public health issues do you hope to address through your dissertation?

I hope to address the issue of unequal access to affordable health care in the U.S. While the Affordable Care Act lowered the uninsured rate, many people still experience coverage loss, disruptive lapses, or health insurance transitions that erode continuity and quality of care. My dissertation evaluated how the Affordable Care Act insurance expansion provisions impacted the stability of health insurance coverage, a critical metric beyond simply measuring who has health insurance and who doesn't. In one chapter of my dissertation, I focused specifically on low-income pregnant women who are at high risk of coverage loss after delivery. I evaluated whether the Affordable Care Act's state Medicaid expansion option helped new mothers retain Medicaid coverage and improved access to care during the postpartum period. My hope is that this study will bring awareness to how insurance policies contribute to high rates of maternal morbidity and mortality in the U.S. and will highlight policy options for mitigating coverage loss.

What are your future plans now that you have finished your PhD?

I will be an assistant professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, in the Department of Health Policy, Law, and Management. 


Sarah's fellow HSR students congratulate her on her successful defense

Sarah and her thesis advisor, Amal Trivedi












Sarah's Dissertation Committee
L to R: Amal Trivedi, Advisor; Omar Galárraga; Ira Wilson; Benjamin Sommers

Sarah's proud family toasts her success!