The mission of the Health Section is to prepare health actuaries for positions of leadership and to promote the relevance of health actuaries by:
- Providing relevant educational opportunities and member communications,
- Continually expanding the marketplace relevance of the health actuary, and
- Facilitating practical research
Of course, none of this will be possible without volunteers. To volunteer, please feel free to explore the Volunteer Opportunities Database or contact the appropriate lead as shown on the Health Section Council Organizational Chart.
On-going Educational Opportunities
The Health Section offers many on-going education opportunities, such as meeting sessions, web series, stand-alone webcasts, podcasts, and our newsletter, HealthWatch.
Meeting sessions are offered as part of one of our three major meetings each year: The SOA Health Meeting, the SOA Life Meeting, and the SOA Annual Meeting & Exhibit. Meetings offer attendees a menu of sessions on a variety of topics for a single fee. On the other hand, with a web series, the attendee can attend multiple sessions relating to a common theme for a single fee. As the name implies, stand-alone webcasts are single sessions for a specific topic. For a complete list of upcoming events, visit the SOA Calendar. Health Section Members receive a discount of $25 discount per webcast sponsored by the Health Section. The discount is applied at registration. Health Section members also have access to recorded webinars sponsored by the Health Section that are one year or older. The list of presentations can be found in the Health Section Community of SOA Engage. In addition, presentations from past in-person events are available to the public and recordings of the session are available for purchase.
HealthWatch, the Health Section newsletter, is published bi-monthly. HealthWatch articles range from very technical topics, like quantile regression and blockchain technology, to more business-oriented topics, like rural health care and behavioral economics. From time to time, the articles include updates on SOA and Health Section Council activities.
Podcasts are usually released bi-weekly on Mondays. The hashtag is #healthpodcastmonday. Podcasts usually last 15 to 20 minutes and cover topics ranging from gene therapy to health care in a recession.
In addition to HealthWatch, the primary way the Health Section Council communicates with its members is through Health Section web page. This link brings you to the Section Home page, which includes to the latest information. The other two tabs include the newsletter page and this page, the Resources page, which you are viewing now.
Members can also communicate directly with one another through sub-groups, SOA Engage, and social media. Sub-groups are communities with common interests like Medicaid, Medicare and public health. You can join that community, or manage your listserv preferences here. Once you are a member, you will be invited to any meetings held by that group. Although not every sub-group holds meetings, the ones that do often have speakers and lively conversations about the topic. You can also send a message to the group to ask a question or share information you think the group might need to know. Of course, all the communications are subject to SOA standards. You do not need to be a member of the SOA to join a sub-group.
SOA Engage is open to all SOA members, but only SOA members. Like the list-servs, SOA Engage is organized by community. If you are a member of the Health Section, you are automatically part of that community. Once you are a member, you can read and post information.
Many health actuaries use Twitter and LinkedIn to communicate with friends and colleagues. On LinkedIn you may find it helpful to join the SOA Health Section group for a more focused experience. The Health Section recommends using the hashtag #soahealth for both Twitter and LinkedIn.
The Health Section uses strategic initiatives as the primary tool for expanding marketplace relevance for health actuaries. Each strategic initiative provides an on-demand source of information and a framework for further discussion on a topic of interest to health actuaries and, in many cases, to the larger health community. The key strategic initiatives in reverse chronological order include:
- Managed Care 3.0 Technology. In recent years, technology has changed the delivery of health care. This strategic initiative describes those changes and the key factors actuaries most consider in reflecting these changes in their day to day work.
- Actuarial Perspectives on Prescription Drug Financing. The one thing that Democrats, Republicans and Independents agree on is that prescription drug costs are too high. This strategic initiative provides some much-needed transparency to this important topic.
- Value-Based Care. Historically, providers have been reimbursed on a fee-for-service basis without any direct accountability for cost or quality. Currently, roughly 1/3 of all care is reimbursed using a value-based reimbursement method, which holds the provider directly accountable for quality and efficiency, at least to some extent. This strategic initiative provides a framework for exploring the many inter-related components of value-based care, and produced this report.
- The ACA@10. This strategic initiative, published on the 10th anniversary of the ACA, provided an analysis of the successes and unintended consequences of the ACA. This initiative included a quantitative research project Fifty States, Fifty Stories: A Decade of Health Care Reform Under the ACA. This strategic initiative was a follow-up to an earlier one The ACA@5: An Actuarial Retrospective.
- Initiative 18/11: What Can We Do About the Cost of Health Care? Health care in the U.S. is about 18% of our GDP compared to only 11% in comparable countries. In 2018, the SOA, in conjunction, with our partner, the Kaiser Family Foundation, held a day-long conference with over 30 leaders in the health care community to discuss the cost of health care in the United States and potential solutions. After the release of the conference report, the Health Section Council launched several follow-up projects, including the prescription drug initiative described above and a project known as Managed Care 3.0, which will explore the next generation of health care. We now have two additional partners for this initiative: the HealthCare Finance Management Association and the Conference of Consulting Actuaries. Members of the 18/11 planning meeting have also presented on this topic at many actuarial and non-actuarial meetings.
- Public Health. This strategic initiative was the culmination of the work done by the Public Health Task Force, which introduced the importance of Public Health to actuaries and began forging alliances with non-actuarial organizations. This initiative provides information on key public health topics like the opioid epidemic and the Oregon Medicaid transformation.
- The ACA Exchange Initiatives Program. This initiative takes a deep dive into several key aspects of the ACA, including the advantages and challenges associated with risk adjustment and key factors needed for market stabilization.
- Commercial Insurance: What's Next? This initiative examines key aspects that must be considered during any discussion of health care reform, including discussions of high deductible health plans and other topics that are not usually considered as part of the ACA.
- The Role of the Actuary in Self-Insurance. This report provides an in-depth look at how an actuary can support a self-insured health plan along with key information to support that work.
- Actuaries and the Opioid Epidemic, a discussion of how actuarial expertise is informing clinical decision-making and health care modeling
- The Temptuous Crisis Situation, a recommendation to policymakers to let the ACA fully-develop before making substantial changes
- The Current State of U.S. Health Care, a look at 18% of our economy in 10 charts
- Sub-optimally Decompartmentalized, a look at the Global Health Crisis
- The Changing Face of Risk, a discussion of the need to update the HRBC risk formula to reflect the nature of today’s risk
- How to Explain Health Policy to Your Facebook Friends, the name says it all.
At the SOA, health research, including long-term disability, is coordinated through the Health Care Cost Trends Strategic Research Program. Under this program, the SOA provides updates on key issues, like COVID, sponsored research, staff research and podcasts.
Over the last few months, the SOA has provided actuaries and others with extensive resources to deal with the impact of COVID-19, including regular updates, podcasts and models.
Published research reports include:
- The Modeling Effect of Enrollee Choice, a study simulating employee choice of health plans.
- Direct Primary Care: Evaluating a New Model of Delivery and Financing, a comprehensive description of direct primary care as well as an objective actuarial evaluation of this model of care.
- A Summary of the Health Care Cost Institute's 2020 Annual Cost and Utilization Report, a summary of work done by The Health Care Cost Institute, an organization that collects data for over 100 million people annually.
SOA Health section members get unrestricted access to numerous health, healthcare and policy articles with important information about the latest health issues and trends via a free Health Affairs online subscription. Contact Ladelia Berger at email@example.com for access.