Tax Policy Center



Stephen Zuckerman

Codirector, Health Policy Center

People seek health insurance because they do not know when and how much care they will need. However, because of this third party—the health insurer—most patients never know how much health care costs. This has led to a costly system that does not always provide patients with the highest quality of care. The challenge of health policy research is to develop policies that improve efficiency while maintaining access to needed and affordable care for all people.


Stephen Zuckerman is a senior fellow and codirector of the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute. He has studied health economics and health policy for almost 30 years and is a national expert on Medicare and Medicaid physician payment, including how payments affect enrollee access to care and the volume of services they receive. He is currently examining how payment and delivery system reforms can affect the availability of primary care services, and studying the implementation and impact of the Affordable Care Act.

Zuckerman has published extensively on a wide range of other topics, including the determinants of geographic differences in Medicare spending; Medicaid managed care; state coverage expansions for adults; changes in Medicare benefit design that could protect the most vulnerable beneficiaries; hospital rate setting; and the impact of undocumented immigrants on the US health care system. Other issues he has worked on include Medicaid financing arrangements used by states, crowd-out of private coverage by SCHIP, the health care safety net, and survey approaches for measuring insurance coverage. Zuckerman also codirected the development of the Geographic Practice Cost Indices used in the Medicare physician fee schedule.

Before joining Urban, Zuckerman worked at the American Medical Association's Center for Health Policy Research. He received his PhD in economics from Columbia University in 1983.