How program managers can use random assignment (i.e., a lottery) to build evidence that can improve customer service: An interview with Matthew Notowidigdo, Northwestern University – Episode #163

How can program managers within public agencies — whether local, state or federal — use random assignment (in other words, a lottery) within programs to build evidence that can strengthen results and improve customer service?

A good example comes from South Carolina. Its Medicaid program is administered through Managed Care Organizations, which offer different health care plans to Medicaid beneficiaries. What happens when people don’t choose a plan? In those cases, the state has begun randomly assigning those individuals to plans. It’s not only a fair way to make those assignment decisions, but it also allows researchers to build credible evidence about the different Medicaid plans — and about the state’s star ratings of those plans.

To learn more, we are joined by Matthew Notowidigdo (@ProfNoto), an Associate Professor of Economics at Northwestern University and an affiliated professor at J-PAL. With Craig Garthwaite of Northwestern, he has been studying South Carolina’s Medicaid system as part of JPAL-North America’s State and Local Innovation Initiative.