Working with an interdisciplinary focus, I examine how health care institutions and health insurance structures create health disparities and precarious labor conditions for patients and health workers.
In my current research I examine hidden labor in health care financing. The passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 has expanded health insurance to millions of U.S. citizens but also left millions of people uninsured or underinsured. This partial success relies upon hidden labor done by non-medical workers, including medical coders, and patients. In this work, I bring together anthropology’s focus on care ethics with health economy’s conversion of human suffering into distinct price tags.
With researchers at the Center for Health Workforce Studies at the University of Washington I investigate the role of health workers in the areas of reproductive health, community paramedicine, and health equity. https://depts.washington.edu/fammed/chws/
Previously I studied transgender health care in the United States. In publications Ethnography and Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, I argue that bureaucracy and finance are not abstract structures against which ethical clinical decision-making takes place. Instead, within different cultural settings, they actively co-construct whose life a nation deems worth saving. My work details the politics of care that come matter in a turbulent medical field in the privatized U.S. health care system.
Addressing structural inequalities from various angles is a core strength in my teaching. Examining health reform proposals, health activism, and the role of health workers and patients in health care, students learn that being sick is more than a biological phenomenon or the result of individual choices. They come to understand that social inequalities lie at the center of people’s substantial health burdens. I have developed and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Queer health; Health insurance in the United States; Health care in jails and prisons; and the Anthropology of Care, among other topics.