Harold S. Luft, PhD

Caldwell B. Esselstyn Professor Emeritus of Health Policy and Health Economics

Harold S. Luft, PhD, is Caldwell B. Esselstyn Professor Emeritus of Health Policy and Health Economics at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco. He joined UCSF in 1978 and was Director of the PRL-IHPS from 1993 - 2007. In July 2008, he became Director of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute. He continues to be involved in some activities at PRL-IHPS.

His research and teaching have covered a wide range of areas, including medical care utilization, health maintenance organizations, hospital market competition, quality and outcomes of hospital care, risk assessment and risk adjustment, and health care reform. He has been involved in postdoctoral training for almost 40 years, having been co-director or associate director for four training programs sponsored by UCSF and/or UC Berkeley and continues to mentor fellows at PAMFRI. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and served six years on the IOM Council. He was a member of and chaired the National Advisory Council of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (now the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality). He served on the board of AcademyHealth for 10 years and was co-editor of the journal Health Services Research. He has authored or co-authored and edited a number of books and published numerous articles in scientific journals. Professor Luft received his A.B., M.A., and Ph.D. in economics (specializing in health sector economics and public finance) from Harvard University.


Luft, Harold S., Total Cure:  The Antidote to the Health Care Crisis, Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 2008.

Luft, Harold S.   Health Maintenance Organizations:  Dimensions of Performance.  New York:  Wiley-Interscience, 1981.  Reprinted with a new preface, New Brunswick, NJ:  Transaction Books, 1987.
Luft HS. “Data and Methods to Facilitate Delivery System Reform: Harnessing Collective Intelligence to Learn from Positive Deviance.” Health Services Research, 45(5p2): 1570-1580, 2010.
Dudley, R. Adams, Medlin, Carol A., Hammann, Lisa B., Cisternas, Miriam G., Brand, Richard, Rennie, Deborah J., Luft, Harold S. “The Best of Both Worlds? The Potential of Hybrid Prospective/Concurrent Risk Adjustment.”  Medical Care, 2003; 41(1):56-69.
Luft, Harold S., and Romano, Patrick S.  “Chance, Continuity, and Change in Hospital Mortality Rates: Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Patients in California Hospitals, 1983 to 1989,” Journal of the American Medical Association 270:3 (21 July 1993): 331-337.
Luft, Harold S., Garnick, Deborah W., Mark, David H., Peltzman, Deborah J., Phibbs, Ciaran S., Lichtenberg, Erik, McPhee, Stephen J.  “Does Quality Influence Choice of Hospital?” Journal of the American Medical Association 263:21(June 6, 1990):2899-2906.
Luft, Harold S., Hunt, Sandra S., and Maerki, Susan C.  “The Volume-Outcome Relationship: Practice Makes Perfect or Selective Referral Patterns?”  Health Services Research  22:2 (June 1987):157-182.  (selected as the best article of the year by the Association for Health Services Research)
Luft, Harold S., Robinson, James C.,  Garnick, Deborah W., Maerki, Susan C. and McPhee, Stephen J.  “The Role of Specialized Clinical Services in Competition Among Hospitals,” Inquiry 23:1 (Spring 1986):83-94.
Luft, Harold S., Bunker, John P., and Enthoven, Alain C.  “Should Operations Be Regionalized? The Empirical Relation between Surgical Volume and Mortality,”  New England Journal of Medicine  301:24 (20 December 1979):1364-1369.
Luft, Harold S.  “How Do Health Maintenance Organizations Achieve Their Savings?”  New England Journal of Medicine 298:24 (15 June 1978):1336-1343.