Joseph Benitez

Assistant Professor
University of Kentucky College of Public Health

Dr. Benitez is a health services researcher specializing in health economics and empirical policy analysis. His broader interests are the effects of public policy on access to care for medically underserved populations. His current research focuses on Medicaid’s utility as a safety net program for households affected by job loss. Dr. Benitez’s research has been published in Health Affairs, Health Services Research, Medical Care, and Medical Care Research and Review

Benitez completed his Ph.D. in Health Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His doctoral dissertation was funded by an R36 Dissertation Award from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) to study the long-run health effects of Medically Underserved Area and Health Professional Shortage Area designations. He earned an MPH from the University of Kentucky, and holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Georgia.


From 2013-2015, more than 3 million U.S. workers became unemployed and nearly a third were unable to return to work by 2018. Unexpected job losses can be devastating for individuals and families. However, a job loss and a sudden gap in health coverage creates an added layer of financial distress for households with costly medical needs. These households must absorb the costs of their health care needs or risk experiencing negative health effects.