Laura Wherry

I am an assistant professor at NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.



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NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
295 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor
NY, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 998-7444

Working Papers

The Economic Consequences of Being Denied an Abortion with Sarah Miller and Diana Greene Foster, Under review

Restrictions on abortion are pervasive, yet relatively little is known about the financial and economic impact of being denied an abortion on pregnant women who seek one. This paper evaluates the economic consequences of being denied an abortion on the basis of the gestational age of the pregnancy. Our analysis relies on new linkages to ten years of administrative credit report data for participants in the Turnaway Study, the first study to collect high-quality, longitudinal data on women receiving or being denied a wanted abortion in the United States. Some women had pregnancies close to the facility's gestational age limit, but below it, and received a wanted abortion (Near Limit Group). A second group of women had pregnancies just over the facility's gestational age limit and were turned away without receiving an abortion (Turnaway Group). Using these linked data, we compare differences in credit report outcomes for the two groups of women over time using an event study design. We find evidence of a large and persistent increase in financial distress for the women who were denied an abortion that is sustained for the 6 years following the intended abortion.

What Difference Does a Diagnosis Make? Evidence from Marginal Patients with Mattan Alalouf and Sarah Miller

Over the past 30 years, the criteria used to diagnose and treat many common illnesses have become more relaxed, resulting in millions more relatively healthy individuals receiving medical treatment. This paper explores the impact of receiving a diagnosis of a common disease among patients who are close to the diagnostic threshold. Our approach exploits the diagnostic criteria for diabetes that uses a sharp cutoff in blood sugar levels to classify patients as having diabetes. Using a regression discontinuity design, we compare patients with similar underlying health who fall close to the diabetes diagnostic threshold and follow them for 6 years after diagnosis. We find that a marginally diagnosed patient with diabetes spends $1,097 more on drugs and diabetes-related care annually after diagnosis, but find no corresponding changes in self-reported health or healthy behaviors. These increases in spending persist over the 6-year period we observe the patients, despite the fact that many who are not initially diagnosed receive a later diagnosis during this time frame. These marginally diagnosed patients experience improved blood sugar after the first year of diagnosis, but this improvement does not persist in subsequent years. Other clinical measures of health, such as BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, and mortality show no improvement. The diagnosis rates for preventable disease-related conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, neuropathy, and kidney disease increase following a diagnosis, likely due to more intensive screening. Because a large fraction of diabetes patients have lab values close to the diagnosis threshold, our results imply that even a small relaxation in the diagnosis cutoff, as has been recently observed for several other chronic illnesses, would increase total spending on diabetes-related care by about $2.4 billion annually and minimally impact patient health, at least in the medium term.

Multi-generational Impacts of Childhood Access to the Safety Net: Early Life Exposure to Medicaid and the Next Generation's Health with Chloe East, Sarah Miller, and Marianne Page, reject and resubmit at American Economic Review

We examine multi-generational impacts of positive in utero and early life health interventions. We focus on the 1980s Medicaid expansions, which targeted low-income pregnant women, and were adopted differently across states and over time. We use Vital Statistics Natality files to create unique data linking individuals’ in utero Medicaid exposure to the next generation’s health outcomes at birth. We find strong evidence that the health benefits associated with treated generations’ in utero access to Medicaid extend to later offspring in the form of higher average birth weight and decreased incidence of very low birth weight. Later childhood exposure to Medicaid does not lead to persistent health effects across generations. The return on investment is substantially larger than suggested by evaluations of the program that focus only on treated cohorts.


Medicaid and Mortality: New Evidence from Linked Survey and Administrative Data with Sarah Miller and Norman Johnson, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2021, Ungated version, Appendix

Medicaid Expansion Increased Preconception Health Counseling, Folic Acid Intake, and Postpartum Contraception, with Rebecca Myerson and Samuel Crawford, Health Affairs, 2020

The Impact of Insurance Expansions on the Already Insured: The Affordable Care Act and Medicare with Colleen Carey and Sarah Miller, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2020

How Have ACA Insurance Expansions Affected Health Outcomes? Findings From The Literature, with Aparna Soni and Kosali Simon, Health Affairs, 2020

What Happens After an Abortion Denial? A Review of Results from the Turnaway Study with Sarah Miller and Diana Greene Foster, AEA Papers and Proceedings, 2020

Four Years Later: Insurance Coverage and Access to Care Continue to Diverge Between ACA Medicaid Expansion and Non-Expansion States with Sarah Miller, AEA Papers and Proceedings, 2019

The Long-Term Effects of Early Life Medicaid Coverage with Sarah Miller, Journal of Human Resources, 2018, Appendix

Childhood Medicaid Coverage and Later Life Health Care Utilization with Sarah Miller, Robert Kaestner, and Bruce Meyer, Review of Economics and Statistics, 2018, Appendix

State Medicaid Expansions for Parents Led to Increased Coverage and Prenatal Care Utilization Among Pregnant Mothers, Health Services Research, 2018

Health and Access to Care During the First 2 Years of the ACA Medicaid Expansion with Sarah Miller, New England Journal of Medicine, 2017

State and Federal Coverage for Pregnant Immigrants: Prenatal Care Increased, No Change Detected for Infant Health with Rachel Fabi, Adam Schickedanz, and Brendan Saloner, Health Affairs, 2017

Saving Teens: Using a Policy Discontinuity to Estimate the Effects of Medicaid Eligibility with Bruce Meyer, Journal of Human Resources, 2016, Appendix

Early Coverage, Access, Utilization, and Health Effects of the Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansions: A Quasi-Experimental Study with Sarah Miller, Annals of Internal Medicine, 2016

Previous Medicaid Expansion May Have Had Lasting Positive Effects on Oral Health of Non-Hispanic Black Children with Brandy Lipton, Sarah Miller, Sandra Decker, and Genevieve Kenney, Health Affairs, 2016

The Role of Public Health Insurance in Reducing Child Poverty with Genevieve Kenney and Benjamin Sommers, Academic Pediatrics, 2016

Predicting High Cost Pediatric Patients: Derivation and Validation of a Population-Based Model with Lindsey Leininger and Brendan Saloner, Medical Care, 2015

Using Self-Reported Health Measures to Predict High-Need Cases among Medicaid-Eligible Adults with Marguerite Burns and Lindsey Leininger, Health Services Research, 2015

Medicaid Family Planning and Related Preventive Care, American Journal of Public Health, 2013