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Student Spotlight- Lauren Patterson

Lauren Patterson, Baker Scholar, Global Leadership Scholar, and recent UT graduate, now working for Bank of America.

Lauren Patterson Student Spotlight Photo

Lauren Patterson, a recent graduate of the Haslam College of Business, Global Leadership Scholar, and Baker Scholar is enjoying post graduate success as she begins working full time at the Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. Lauren majored in Economics with a collateral in International Business and a minor in Public Policy Analytics through the Baker Center. Growing up in Williamson County, TN, where both her parents were state employees, she “learned from an early age the importance of policy and the potential impacts of policy changes.” She further developed this interest in college through internships with a member of British Parliament and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. These experiences “reinforced my interests in the ability of the government and business to work together to make this world better.” As a Baker Scholar, Lauren decided to dive in health policy after a summer with Bank of America, where she “worked with the healthcare team that analyzes and underwrites loans for large healthcare corporations.”

In her thesis research, which can be found here, Lauren examined “how the number of plans offered and firms in a set market, plan pricing components, and country health variables impact monthly premium pricing for plans sold on the individual market.” The creation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which required private insurers to insure everyone who applied, charge the same premiums to people of the same age, and cover pre-existing conditions, ultimately aimed to increase the insured rate. However, some of the ACA regulations led to “heterogeneous risk pools”, meaning that people paid equal premiums regardless of their risk. Lauren observed that when risk pools are not separated, “the premium for that pool will rise over time due to the high-risk payers making significantly more costly claims.” Due to the increasing premiums, healthy enrollees, exited the market. Additionally, as more regulations on insurance companies were created, many private firms pulled out of ACA insurance exchanges, which left some markets with only one insurer. In Lauren’s research, she also analyzed how consolidation of insurers or low competition affects premium costs. Lauren used an ordinary least squares regression to analyze the relationship between premium prices and the number of plans sold while accounting for “country health variables and other insurance plan pricing components.” Through her research, Lauren found that a maximum out of pocket price, the rate of excess drinking, and the unemployment rate had the largest effect on premium price. Additionally, she found that” more plans in a market are associated with lower premium prices,” which supports other research in the field. For Lauren, the most interesting finding was how risk pools and the theory of competition with price interact. She found that premium costs weren’t only impacted by the number of plans available or the number of firms in a market, because the two interact to create price changes in the market.

The Baker Scholars program and project helped Lauren see what interested her in the realm of public policy. While Lauren was always interested in health and healthcare policy, she sees it “more as a calling than an interest” now. After a few years working as a full-time analyst with the Bank of America, Lauren may consider pursuing a doctorate degree in Economics.

You can find all other recent student spotlights, including Lauren’s, here.

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