MIT Ford Professor of Economics Amy Finkelstein, who studies the economics of health and healthcare, poses for a portrait at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. Photographer: Kelvin Ma/Bloomberg Amy Finkelstein (Photo: Kelvin Ma/BB)

The Jane Austen of insurance economics papers has won a “MacArthur genius grant.”

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation last week gave a $625,000, “no strings attached” grant to Amy Finkelstein, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

(Related: A Savings Model for Health Care Still Has Promise)

Finkelstein, who is 44, has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and a doctorate from MIT.

The MacArthur Foundation, which is based in Chicago, says it gave a fellowship to Finkelstein because of her work on ”investigating the ways in which health care policy affects health, health care, and well-being.”

The foundation notes, for example, that Finkelstein has shown that well-intentioned health benefits programs can have unintended consequences.

For life insurance, health insurance and annuity professionals, Finkelstein is known for writing and co-writing dozens of papers on the kinds of products and problems that financial professionals see in the office every day.

In 2002, for example, Finkelstein helped write an article about how adverse selection affected the annuity market in the United Kingdom. She showed that the life expectancy of purchasers who could choose whether to buy annuities was much higher than the U.K. average, and that the life expectancy of purchasers who were required to buy annuities, by a government mandate, was somewhat higher than the U.K. average.

In 2007, she got attention from people in the long-term care insurance community with a paper with the title, “Why is the Market for Long-Term Care Insurance So Small?”

In a recent paper, Finkelstein and colleagues looked at the successes, and failures, of Medicare hospital services payment reform efforts.

— Read Amy Finkelstein’s Deep Dive Into Annuities & Insuranceon ThinkAdvisor.

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