Leveraging knowledge and diversity to further progressMAY 2020
Leaders from the Society of Actuaries (SOA) gathered online in four cohorts to reflect on the past year and to share their perspectives on the future of the organization and the actuarial profession. The virtual roundtable conversations are published in four installments this spring.
This article, the second in the series, addresses the SOA’s progress in social responsibility, education, and thought leadership. As you will see from the discussion, the activities in these areas, as well as the goals behind them, are closely interwoven.
Q: Why is inclusion and diversity important for the SOA as an organization and for the profession?
Sara Teppema: If we don’t have everybody at the table, participating in the discussion, we miss out on valuable insights with respect to everything we do. Having the best talent around those discussions is the way we’re going to move forward. We also know, that millennials and Gen Xers are honed on this topic, and there’s a good reason for that. The business world today is more diverse than it was for older generations, and younger workers really care about this. I hear every day that it’s very important to them that they join an organization that represents what they look like and what their perspectives are. If we want to grow as a profession and stay relevant, we have to prioritize this. And it’s not about checking certain boxes; it needs to be part of everything we do. It needs to be woven into all of our activities, all of our education and research, and all of our committees, so it’s crucial that we are paying attention.
Also, we’re hearing a lot about innovation and how we need to be more innovative. InsurTech is something of a threat and something of an opportunity for us, and the best route to innovation is to have more diverse teams that can think outside the box and have new perspectives. All the data and research show that innovation requires inclusive and diverse teams, and we need to be innovative to take advantage of opportunities.
Q: The High School Actuarial Day with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) was a joint effort, with the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the SOA partnering with DePaul University. Can you tell us a little bit about the program and the experience?
Roy Goldman: This is a hands-on event that gives actuaries an opportunity to meet directly with students, some of whom will be potential future actuaries, and help them understand the work of the actuarial profession. The SOA has learned through surveys that the biggest hurdle we face in improving diversity is that students, parents and teachers are unaware of the profession. We’ve had a positive response. In 2019, 240 students from 10 high schools within Chicago participated in this program, with 60 volunteers from the SOA and the CAS. We’re always looking for ways for our members to volunteer, and this is one way. We encourage members to volunteer at their own local career events and to invite students and potential candidates for actuarial science into these events.
Teppema: We’re really excited about High School Actuarial Day because we see it as a primary way to reach high school kids and even those in junior high who are less likely to have heard about the actuarial profession from family and teachers. We were able to take the experience with DePaul and CPS and recreate it in California with the University of the Pacific and surrounding high schools there. Despite the challenges in terms of the sheer number of students and volunteers who live quite far from school, it was a very successful event. Everyone was very positive about it. Hopefully we’re going to do that several more times this year, as well as adapting a kind of “lite” version so we can support it with at least the curriculum, if not all the staff and volunteer support. Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee is identifying ways to present High School Actuarial Day virtually. They are working on potential virtual events for the fall.
Q: Can you tell us about the SOA’s work with other actuarial organizations and groups? For example, there’s the Organization of Latino Actuaries (OLA), the International Association of Black Actuaries (IABA) and Gamma Iota Sigma.
Teppema: Yes, we’ve worked with all three of those organizations on career encouragement for quite a while. As a result of those partnerships, in 2019 we decided that, because so much of this work is profession-focused and not specific to any one organization, we would be much more effective in this space if we joined with the CAS. So, we created a joint committee called the Joint Committee for Inclusion, Equity and Diversity (JCIED), and members from both the CAS and the SOA participate in several related work groups. We worked very hard on our vision statement, which I think is powerful and really exciting. It says, “Our profession is the STEM career of choice for candidates of all perspectives, experiences and backgrounds. We create a strong sense of belonging, such that our members fully contribute and advance the profession, and we offer an equitable opportunity for education, research and leadership for our stakeholders.” Each of those points gets to diversity, inclusion and equity in turn, and we feel that it represents what we would like to accomplish.
As a result of that, we are finding new ways to expand our support of OLA, the IABA and Gamma Iota Sigma. The latter is a college honorary for risk management students, and as Sustaining Partners we do quite a bit of work with them. We meet and collaborate frequently with these groups and look forward to continuing our support as we move forward with the JCIED.
Goldman: In addition, we’ve had special sessions at each of our meetings to give us a chance to meet with students and actuaries in OLA. As Sara mentioned, we support the programs of Gamma Iota Sigma, which is a real pipeline for collegiate talent in risk management. Last year, the SOA and the CAS announced a significant increase in funding to support scholarships to the IABA-run boot camp. This is a four-day workshop that introduces students and entry level actuaries to actuarial science and the profession. It’s another avenue to support diversity in our profession.
Teppema: I got to meet with some of the boot camp participants last year as part of a mock interview and resume-building workshop. They were so impressive, and it was so much fun to meet and get to know them. The boot camp is a fantastic program that the IABA hosts and we support financially.
Goldman: I agree. I met the students, and they are really impressive.
Q: Turning to another part of diversity and inclusion, the SOA sponsors LGBTQ and allies networking events. Can you tell us a little bit about those events and how they are received?
Teppema: For the past couple of years we’ve offered networking receptions for LGBTQ members and allies, which are usually held as happy hour at the end of a meeting day. We’ve had great attendance, and I’ve gotten to know a lot of people; they’re great networking opportunities. I think even more important than networking, though, is the fact that there is a space for these folks, and the allies who attend, to be authentic in who they are. Of course, I like to believe that all of our meetings and events are safe places, but when you’re a member of one of these groups, you may not feel comfortable being your authentic self. If you have a space at one of those meetings, it creates a sense of inclusion and belonging that we need to have at our events.
Q: So, although the number of people varies, these offerings have been very well received?
Teppema: I’ve heard a lot of feedback that people really appreciate that the events are there, and it’s also nice to know there will be future opportunities to network with those groups.
Goldman: Yes, and that’s the real benefit of having our face-to-face meetings. It’s the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and from all around the country. Whatever we can do to promote networking is helpful to us as an organization.
Q: On that same subject, tell us about how actuaries are supporting society. That’s really important, given the current environment.
Goldman: Social responsibility is very important. I feel strongly that actuaries’ responsibility is to society. This is reflected in the products we design and price to protect individuals and their families against contingencies such as death, auto accidents, and the need for health care, as well as saving for retirement and relying on Social Security and Medicare. I’ve felt this responsibility personally as someone who designed and priced medical benefit plans, especially for Medicare and Medicaid recipients. These are benefits that people count on every day, and I wanted their coverage to be as robust as possible, at the lowest rates possible, and still provide a margin for my employers. If we look at today’s environment, I feel strongly that members of the SOA have the responsibility to inform public policy on issues that have an actuarial context. Obviously, a current example is with the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on mortality, morbidity retirement income, and insurers’ assets and liabilities. But we’re also needed in vetting various proposals to revise and improve the U.S. health care system and understanding the economic effects of non-medical opioid use.
Dale Hall: Building on Roy’s response, I think it’s important that SOA research projects be beneficial not only for the day-to-day work of our profession, but also for addressing many of the public interest or public policy topics for the world around us. Take opioids as an example. It’s certainly been noticeable in population mortality trends, as we’ve watched those statistics over the last 10 years. Also, on the health care side, the cost and utilization of treating opioid abuse has been a part of what health insurers have been covering, a cost that’s even more dramatic when it comes to social programs like Medicare or Medicaid. So while our members are thinking about pricing new life insurance products or wondering what the impact will be on longevity, or how much health care cost and utilization should be contemplated in next year’s premium rates, they need to remember that these efforts are going to intersect with related societal issues. The more research we do on those types of topics for our members and the benefit of the public, the more opportunities we have to serve both simultaneously.
Q: Moving on to other social needs and helping candidates and the public, I’d like to talk a little bit about some of the SOA’s local community work. For instance, we have the Sock Drive, as well as the Math Motivators Program through The Actuarial Foundation.
Goldman: There’s a lot to talk about here. First of all, at each of our major meetings last year, we coordinated a Sock Drive, donating socks to a local charity. In 2019, we donated nearly 1,000 pair of socks, which go to individuals who are homeless, a highly requested item by them.
Regarding what we do with The Actuarial Foundation, let me talk about that in some detail. I’m still surprised at how many actuaries are not familiar with The Actuarial Foundation. The SOA, along with the other U.S.-based actuarial organizations, support this 501(c)(3) Foundation, whose mission is to increase the math and financial literacy of students and adults through the talents of actuaries. The SOA contributes annually to support the Foundation’s administrative expenses, and I’ve been a Board Trustee since 2015. But in addition to our annual contributions, in 2018 and 2019, the SOA established a matching donation program with our members with the goal of raising $125,000 to support The Actuarial Foundation’s Math Motivators Program. Through this program more than 500 actuaries and actuarial students give up a couple of hours each week to meet with the high school students one-on-one to tutor them in algebra and geometry. We go to schools where a majority of the students are on free meals and can’t afford private tutoring. It’s been so satisfying to see the schools’ math scores improve and students being accepted to college—usually the first ones in their families to do that. Currently, the Foundation runs programs in 20 cities and serves 770 students. Notably, as you can imagine, there’s still a tremendous number of schools that we need to reach throughout the country.
To return to a theme I discussed earlier, by being physically present in the nation’s schools, teachers, students and parents are meeting real-life actuaries. This program, along with the Foundation’s Modeling the Future Challenge, which is geared to high school students with superior math skills, the Foundation is introducing the actuarial profession and our skill set to several thousand educators, students and parents each year. And the more people we can get into the top of the funnel, the more and better prepared actuaries we’ll have coming out at the end.
Q: That’s an important point that they’re learning about the profession through personal interactions. Is there anything else involving the community aspect of inclusion and diversity that you’d like to cover before we move on?
Teppema: One of the things that struck me when we did the Health Section’s public health task force was the feedback we got from members about involvement. They really want to know how they can get involved in their local communities. Actuaries really want to make a difference in their neighborhoods, and the more we can find ways to put them in touch with local efforts, such as The Actuarial Foundation or other programs, the more they’ll feel included in the SOA and their communities.
Hall: It’s been great to see the growing diversity of volunteers that we have within our profession. I think generally we have one of the most altruistic professions out there. People who are part of the actuarial profession join it because they’re not only good at math and business, but they have a sense of community and doing things that are going to be beneficial and risk-protecting for the world around them. We’ve carried that through as well to many of our committees and project oversight groups. The work we do in SOA research benefits when we get as diverse a group as possible to serve on the project oversight groups and make sure we’re looking at research and output from a wide variety of perspectives. So it’s been wonderful to see that come to fruition through some of the programs the SOA has implemented.
Q: Now to shift gears, let’s talk a little bit about education, some of the latest developments involving the SOA’s learning strategy, and the next steps there. Roy, would you tell us a little bit about the learning strategy?
Goldman: Beginning in July 2018, we made changes to the Associate syllabus as part of the SOA’s overall strategy to incorporate new technologies and skills in actuarial education. The changes reflect the skills that employers value with the same quality, rigor and depth that you expect from actuaries with SOA credentials. . Education at the Associate level now includes a balance between short-term coverages such as health and general insurance and long-term coverages such as life and annuities. We added an additional course on statistics for risk modeling and a hands-on course in predictive analytics. With predictive analytics in particular, we are developing new skill sets to better prepare SOA-trained actuaries for tomorrow’s opportunities, both inside and outside the insurance industry.
I want to highlight the one other important development during the past year, and that was the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) finally completed its review of our general insurance track, and now recognizes our general insurance Fellows as qualified actuaries to sign statutory statements in general insurance.
Now let me talk a little bit more about the future. In the next five to 10 years, the work of all professionals is going to change, and this change is driven by the growth of artificial intelligence and easy access to expert information on the internet. The demand for quantitative and basic statistical skills that many insurance professionals use will continue to be strong, but we’ll see an even greater increase in the need for advanced IT skills and programming. Essentially, the future will demand for a full range of technology skills. As Sara mentioned earlier, the InsurTech sector focuses on these skills. At the same time, it will be increasingly important for actuaries to have a whole range of social, emotional and adaptability skills to apply across both technical and nontechnical disciplines. We will need to be more creative; have strong communication and negotiation skills; and exhibit entrepreneurship, empathy and leadership skills.
I always tell entry-level hires and actuarial students that in my role as a CFO or chief actuary, the easiest part of my job was to figure out the right answer. It was always harder to convince everybody else in the organization that it was the right answer. Then once a decision was made, the hardest part was implementing it across the organization. We actuaries need to demonstrate the ability to strategize and lead change.
Your Board is devoting considerable time in this area because we think there is an urgency for members to transform our education and the SOA in order to meet the challenges of artificial intelligence, membership growth and engagement, and changing risks in the marketplace. You’ll be hearing much more about that later this year. We plan to communicate broadly with all of you about the immediate need for us to rethink the way we are educating ourselves, how we’re going to continue to develop our professional skills in the future, and how we’re going to continue to grow the profession worldwide.
Q: Now let’s discuss the Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice (FAP)?
Teppema: The FAP educational course has had some changes that we’re going to roll out this year. The goal is to make it more interactive so candidates are more engaged and also to keep the materials current as possible. FSA candidates review and are quizzed on each e-learning module. At the end of the course, they complete an assessment of how much they’ve learned and how well they’ve retained it. This assessment challenges them to tie it all together, and they write a report that shows that aptitude.
Changes mean there’s more ongoing feedback to the candidates as they progress through the modules. From talking to candidates, I’d say they’re welcoming this interactive approach because it really helps them learn. That’s the goal. There are going to be new quizzes and tests throughout that have been updated and are also better at assessing the candidate’s understanding, and we’re also introducing more international material in the modules. That way we can represent all of our candidates around the globe, not just those in North America, which obviously ties into exploring and growing our membership in different countries.
Although we always try to emphasize real-life business scenarios in our exams and education modules, we’re trying to bring even more of that in. Also, every module now includes expanded guidance on written communications, assessing these skills throughout versus just during one or two points of the course. The first five modules are now available, and the others will be rolled out by the end of this year. The new assessments will go through the key concepts and then encourage additional practice of communication skills, application of knowledge to real-life business scenarios, and on-the-job activities.
Q: Dale, can you tell us a bit about the new International Financial Reporting for Insurers (IFRI) book that was just launched?
Hall: The IFRI is an important book to have available, because financial reporting is an area where actuaries play an important role for insurance organizations and many financial institutions as well. The overview of how risk products should be financially reported and the goal of making sure there are consistent financial reporting standards across markets have always been discussion points among regulators—especially in places that are highlighting open markets and the way that securities trading works in those markets. Making sure there is some sort of common language for financial reporting of risk is important, and actuaries contribute significantly to it. Markets outside even the top 10 or 20 economies of the world see common financial reporting standards as an opportunity for companies and risk management in their local markets to take off and access capital from all over the globe. I think that gives actuaries a growing opportunity to participate in those types of markets. The adoption of these types of standards happens over time, and each place, each market, decides what it wants to participate in. The U.S. market, in particular, is influenced by the generally accepted accounting principles (U.S. GAAP) that are used, but those types of principles are always being reviewed to see what International Financial Reporting Standards come into play.
It’s nice to have this new text that summarizes all that’s going on in the financial reporting standards. It gives the profession a common place to go for reference. I have no doubt that this textbook will be quoted, referenced and discussed in many, many conversations around the world. It’s important that the SOA be central to those conversations by providing this resource and useful professional development opportunities that leverage off that resource to make the actuarial profession an even more valuable commodity.
It’s really exciting to see how this will play out in the larger economic markets across the globe. We’re already noting places in the Asia-Pacific markets and even places in Africa where they’ve been trying to ramp up further access to capital and generate more interest in protection and retirement concepts. If there are common International Financial Reporting Standards that everyone can use, then there is a common language that everyone can speak as they build up companies and retirement programs and products.
Q: Let’s talk more about thought leadership. Why has the SOA created the Strategic Research Programs, and how have each of the programs been received so far?
Hall: As part of the SOA’s strategic plan, we wanted to ensure we were focusing our energies on key topics that were of the most value to the actuarial profession. A lot of that had already been happening in some form through our different practice research committees and experience studies, but getting a collective focus on what the key topics are and what areas present the most future opportunities for our profession down the road was a goal of the Board when they adopted the strategic plan. We evaluated the types of topics that actuaries have expertise in, things the SOA had historically been known for. At the same time, we looked at a few things we saw happening now, as well as things coming down the road, to get to a common set of strategic research programs. A few of them are clearly places where we’ve planted flags prominently in the past.
For example, the SOA has always been a leader in aging and retirement research, whether in looking at the risks that retirees face, planning for retirement, or doing experience studies on pension plans that need that type of information to fund appropriate retirement programs. Long-term care is in that category as well. We’ve also been known for mortality and longevity research ever since the first experience studies that were done. Our work on health care has been growing. That’s been a huge dynamic market all over the world, especially in the United States over the last 10 or 15 years with the adoption of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). We’ve ramped up our time, resources and efforts on programs dealing with individual markets, large and small group health insurance plans, and Medicare and Medicaid. All of these are areas where the profession is strong, and it needs to get even stronger in the future.
Our actuarial innovation and technology program came out of this process, and that’s a place where actuaries are playing a large role today. It will get even bigger with the growth of InsurTech and fintech products and the need of those products for computing power and predictive analytics, and how risk assessment and risk categorization work in this new era and context is important. Even further down the road, we hope to launch our catastrophe and climate program next year because actuaries have been working heavily in those areas over the recent years. With the growing international focus on climate risk and associated financial disclosures, as well as the extreme weather events that are driving a lot of what happens with property/casualty insurance and health insurance, those are important places for us to take our knowledge and resources and build up those types of programs even more.
Teppema: The five different programs Dale summarized are: aging and retirement, which is capitalizing off of the great work that had been already done for many years; actuarial innovation and technology, which is a new area; mortality and longevity, which is traditional but we’re reframing it in a new way; health care cost trends; and finally, catastrophe and climate. Each of these programs is a blend of old and new, and that’s what makes them exciting. We’re trying to package information in a way that is more “consumable,” more interesting, a way that helps members and the public to understand and put these concepts together so they make more sense. Also, frankly, we want to invest our resources appropriately and more efficiently. It’s been thrilling to see all these programs come together and start to achieve what we were hoping they would achieve. The most recent, the health care cost trends program, came out on the 10th anniversary of the ACA, which was overshadowed by the largest public health care event of our lives—the coronavirus pandemic. This really just amplified the need for studying those costs and shows that our research, if we focus it right, can really add a lot of value for the public.
Goldman: I don’t know how many exams I took where the Spanish Flu of 1918 was always referenced as an example of an unexpected risk event. Now, unfortunately, we’re going to be able to update that example.
Hall: We do have a new example, and it’s probably even broader in that it’s not just a health or mortality example. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been large on global economics, travel and trade, and ever more interconnected industries. Then there are the operational risks from this event—working remotely and the strain on hospitals. Even now, I hear actuaries talking more and more about things like internet service provider capacity and how is everyone’s virtual private network going to be working. How do we need to look at this from a cyber risk perspective? So, this event will be in the books for many, many years to come as an appropriate example of broad risk management.
Goldman: I remember when I was studying what we called interest theory back then. The interest rate tables in the back of the book were three percent. At the time, the prevailing rates were about eight percent. About 10 years later, we had short-term rates approaching 20 percent. So when we produced the new actuarial textbook on contingencies, we used the six percent rate. I guess all of us would love to see even three percent today.
Hall: Now even the European Central Bank has a negative interest rate target. So the concept of interest rates as low or even negative will be part of the conversation.
Teppema: Let’s not forget the societal impact. How is this affecting people and their health and their families and their demographics and how they shift around globally? There are impacts everywhere.
Goldman: And this gives the SOA an opportunity to show the public how we can contribute—in an objective, relevant, quantitative way—analysis of trends and the possible effects. Dale has done a great job in support our research efforts, and I think the next step for the SOA is to be able to respond rapidly to public issues as they arise and be able to put out papers to the general public. We can give people better insight as the financial consequences are of proposed public policy that has an actuarial component to it. The American Academy of Actuaries produces a lot of material, but that’s mainly directed to legislators and government agencies. The SOA’s audience would be the general public.
Hall: I’m thinking about our recent foray into quick pulse surveys. One just went out this morning, and the response rate is already strong, with life insurance actuaries talking about what they’re starting to see in terms of population mortality claims from COVID-19 turning into insured claims. I think we can do the same with the health care industry to project how some health care services are being deferred, and at what rate will they return to create future health care costs? What type of information and tool can we generate there? Not only to emphasize, how health insurers and regulators can see what is on the horizon, but also to show some helpful transparency, with good information for actuaries and the public.
Goldman: Unfortunately, I don’t think this is going to be the only pandemic going forward. For those who have studied the likely effects of climate change, it’s been projected for many years that one of the possible consequences are more epidemics and pandemics. It’s important to have as much information about this current pandemic so we can be better prepared and be able to forecast more accurately when the next one comes along.
Q: Dale, would you tell us about what the research team has been doing about this rapid response research on COVID-19?
Hall: It was important for us to transform the resources of the SOA from looking at short- to medium-term projects that would be helpful for actuaries to more in-house driven, rapid response work in this environment. We’ve been allocating our time and staff resources a bit differently in recent weeks to make sure we appropriately serve our members and the public with information relevant to the situation. Our research briefs, which we started a few weeks ago, are highlight key risks and data emerging through industry and public research, and add on our primary research and the importance of how the actuarial profession can work with its employers, customers or clients.
We now typically put out a research brief every 10 days or so, because the situation changes quickly so it’s important to have current information. The focus certainly has evolved from the location and geography a month ago to more of a North American focus recently. We have progressed from thinking about the pace and access of testing, to the cost and utilization of testing and treatment, and now to the mortality and hospitalization statistics and the stress that hospitals are seeing, but all along the way we’re making sure that the information has an actuarial view to it. For example, we’ve examined some models that help define, study and understand social distancing and what the potential impacts from that would be. We’re using data sets that are being produced and turning them into actuarial statistics on case fatality rates concepts that actuaries can see.
Information is now given more in short bursts. We’ve been doing a series of podcasts that we can turn around quickly. They are not only commentary and interviews on the current actuarial approach to COVID-19, but also on themes across industries where actuaries work. There was an interview with Mike Consedine, the CEO of the NAIC, to highlight what regulators are looking at in the current environment. One we just released focused mainly on our Asia-Pacific markets from an actuarial, underwriting and trade industry perspective with the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers, which gives people more information that they can use in real time.
We’re doing a set of surveys in conjunction with LIMRA to get more information. We send out a 10-to-15-question survey with a goal to get the information back, summarize and disseminate it within three to five days, and make sure the profession and the public are quickly seeing what’s happening across the viewpoints and data that actuaries are collecting.
This transformation has been helpful. It’s put us in a different mode, but the right helpful research mode, where we can steer members and the public to the actuarial perspective.
Q: Dale, you and Sara both mentioned the ACA 10th anniversary research. Can you talk briefly about that?
Hall: It was important for us to take a retrospective on how the ACA has changed over the last 10 years. The true impact on markets wasn’t immediate when the law was signed. It took a few years, mainly through large-group and small-group coverages, to make some adjustments. But when individual markets came on a few years later, that changed the entire landscape of how health actuaries had been viewing health insurance in the U.S. market, and it was important to make sure we set up a checkpoint to see what has really happened over the last decade:
- What were the original goals of the Act?
- Have they been met? In what shape or what form?
- How has the movement over time been impacted by different decisions and new things to consider?
We produced the report in Fifty States, Fifty Stories, which I think is an appropriate title because there is no unique story in any one place and the path to get there has been different in every situation. However, the research pointed out some helpful general trends. The overall uninsured rate has certainly come down, but that may have been for different reasons than was originally thought. There has been strong growth in employment, so part of it is that more people are working for employers who are able to offer coverage. The individual market has evolved in different ways than might have been expected originally. How Medicaid has been expanded in different states is a big influence on the way health care is provided in some of those places. It’s a very helpful retrospective, probably most of all because it emphasizes that the path to get from point A to point B is not a straight line. It moves around and is influenced by different decisions that are going on in making policy and the way different markets are evolving. I think that’s a helpful look at where U.S. health care stands today and gives a really good overview of where it could head in the coming years.
Goldman: People may forget that the ACA affected a lot of different aspects of health care in the United States. This particular report talked mainly about individual insurance, but there were other aspects of the Act that dealt with Medicare, Medicaid, prescription drugs, nutrition, innovation, etc. One aspect of the report that struck me was given all the acrimony concerning the ACA over these last 10 years, there are only about 11 million people in the individual marketplaces. This is a very small percentage of the total insureds in the United States. A much bigger effect was actually the expansion of Medicaid for the states that saw the light and took the 100 percent offer from the U.S. government to expand that coverage. Medicaid grew by 15-17 million members. Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Part D members have also benefited from more coverage at lower costs and higher quality. We could do another report just on that.
Q: Great. Is there anything about key research over the course of the year or currently, that members would want to know about?
Goldman: One of the things I mentioned earlier is the Foundation’s Modeling the Future Challenge. Members might not be familiar with that, but it’s a competition for juniors and seniors in high school with $55,000 in scholarships as prizes. This is the third year of the competition, and each year we’ve given students a very broad theme to work on. The first one was to look ahead 10 to 20 years at what the effects driverless automobiles could have on insurance, transportation and society. In the second year, students were asked to pick a chronic disease, look at the new technologies being used to cure that disease, and the pros and cons of those new technologies. This year’s theme deals with climate change. Students were asked to choose a region of the country and look at the most important crops or livestock in that area and how they’re affected by weather. Then take the climate models that already exist and look at the future—identify the risks and give recommendations for insurers and policymakers about what they can do to help our farmers and the economies in these areas.
Actuaries are involved in this throughout. They go to local schools and talk about the programs. Each of the teams that makes the first qualifying hurdle has an actuary as a mentor, and then we have actuaries judging the papers. The finalists are invited to a symposium where they present their papers in person to a panel of actuaries and answer questions from us. It’s an amazing experience to see these students. I’ve been closely involved with the program, and it’s another opportunity for the actuarial brand to become much better known. Future competitions are going to emphasize the “actuarial skill set:” on how to obtain data, build a model, analyze the results and t the risks, formulate a conclusion and then write a paper about it. So hopefully more people will know about the actuarial career two years from now than currently do.