Assistant Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy
Her work has been cited almost 1,000 times by fellow academics and in 2017, Sarah Miller and her colleague were awarded a $149,990 grant from the Russell Sage Foundation to study the effect of better neighborhoods on financial well-being and access to credit.
Miller’s research on how increasing formal credit access reduces payday borrowing was the winner of the 2019 Colorado Finance Summit Best Paper award. Her work focuses on health economics and pays particular attention to healthcare programs including the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, in terms of access, coverage, and impact on communities. Miller earned Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Illinois and her research has been published in prestigious publications including The New England Journal of Medicine, Review of Economics and Statistics, and the Annals of Internal Medicine. On top of her teaching, she is also currently a co-investigator on a million-dollar project looking at the connection between early health investments and life outcomes.
“Sarah Miller is an impactful researcher who has made important contributions to the field of health economics and to public policy,” one nominator said. “There is a large body of research showing that health insurance improves access to medical care. Sarah has shown that insurance also has major effects on financial health. In several papers, she finds that coverage expansions lead to a reduction in unpaid bills, the amount of debt sent to collection agencies, and bankruptcies. Her work suggests that the average American who gained Medicaid as a result of the Affordable Care Act experienced a reduction in their credit balance of over $1,000. As Joe Biden might say, that is a ‘big freaking deal.'”
Current Age: 35
At current institution since what year? 2014
Education: Ph.D. in Economics, University of Illinois
List of current MBA courses you currently teach: Healthcare Markets and Public Policy, Applied Microeconomics Core
TELL US ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A PROFESSOR:
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… The first microeconomics class I took, I was hooked. I instantly realized what a powerful lens economics was for understanding markets and the world around us, and I knew I wanted to study it. A business school is a great place to continue learning and growing as an economist because you are constantly being exposed to new ideas.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?
In the last few years, much of my research has focused on the consequences of the Affordable Care Act, and in particular the 2012 decision of the Supreme Court to allow the expansion of insurance to low-income individuals through the Medicaid program to be left to the discretion of the states. In various studies I have shown that this decision had far-reaching impacts for low-income populations in expansion states, not only on the physical health of the population but on their financial health as well. An especially proud moment was when one of my studies on this topic was cited by President Obama in a 2016 article he published on the ACA.
If I weren’t a business school professor… I would probably work in public policy. The public sector is such a big part of our society and has the potential to really help us move forward—or to hold us back, depending on the policies chosen. If I weren’t a professor, I would enjoy having even a small part in those decisions.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?
I try to treat students with respect and empathy. Not every student learns the same way.
One word that describes my first-time teaching: Exciting
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: You will get to work in the most beautiful building on campus.
Professor you most admire and why:
There are so many professors whom I admire tremendously for their amazing contributions to our understanding of economics. One professor who made a huge impact on me and my worldview personally was my advisor at the University of Illinois, Darren Lubotsky. The first course I took with him really opened my eyes to how we can use data to answer important questions in a credible way. I would certainly not be a professor today without his mentorship.
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?
I love how students will share their opinions and aren’t afraid to challenge the professor during group discussions. It makes classes more fun and interactive.
What is most challenging?
Business students are pulled in many directions with recruiting events, on-campus leadership experiences, and academics. Sometimes fear of missing out leads them to spread themselves too thin.
Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious
Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Insecure
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Stern but fair
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM:
What are your hobbies? Working on my research projects and spending time with my husband and toddler keep me pretty busy!
How will you spend your summer? I usually spend a few weeks in Germany visiting my in-laws.
Favorite place(s) to vacation: New Orleans
Favorite book(s): A Confederacy of Dunces
What is your favorite movie and/or television show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?
I love watching the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings trilogy because of the beautiful shots of New Zealand landscapes (and the sweet Orc battles).
Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: Everyone loves the music they listened to when they were young. For me that was the lo-fi alternative rock of the 1990s.
THOUGHTS OF REFLECTIONS:
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Women
In your opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at doing what?
Appreciating their impact on society and culture as a whole and taking this in to account when making decisions.
Faculty and administrators say:
“Sarah Miller embodies the concept of business as a driver of positive change. She makes economics real and relevant; in a survey, her students described her as “a joy whose enthusiasm for the material and for her students shines through in every class” and “a wonderful and patient instructor who created a great classroom environment.” She’s a thought leader at the intersection of business, healthcare, and public policy, particularly on the impacts of the Affordable Care Act: Her research has shown that improved access to care leads to improved financial well-being as well as overall health. Currently, Sarah is a principal investigator on the first major study of a U.S. universal basic income program. Her noteworthy grants include awards from the National Institutes of Health, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the U.S. Census Bureau.”
“Sarah Miller is an outstanding healthcare economics professor. I worked in healthcare consulting before business school and had taken several healthcare courses prior to her class, but she framed things in a way I had never seen before. She makes incredibly good use of data to clearly explain why our healthcare system is the way it is. She is also unbiased and fair. She taught the Accountable Care Act in a way that the class could clearly understand the true upsides and challenges to the legislation and how different states have responded, without political undertones. She had a remarkable impact on my understanding of the healthcare system and reinforced my desire to be part of the solution.”
“Sarah Miller is an impactful researcher who has made important contributions to the field of health economics and to public policy. There is a large body of research showing that health insurance improves access to medical care. Sarah has shown that insurance also has major effects on financial health. In several papers, she finds that coverage expansions lead to a reduction in unpaid bills, the amount of debt sent to collection agencies, and bankruptcies. Her work suggests that the average American who gained Medicaid as a result of the Affordable Care Act experienced a reduction in their credit balance of over $1,000. As Joe Biden might say, that is a ‘big freaking deal.'”