“Most actuaries in this country — what percentage are employed by insurance companies?” Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, asked an actuary last week at a hearing of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
The committee was discussing a study published last month by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) predicting that, thanks to sicker patients joining the coverage pool, medical claims per member will rise 32 percent in the individual plans expected to dominate the ACA exchanges next year. In some states costs will rise as much as 80 percent, the report said.
The witness was unable to answer Franken’s question, but the senator made his point. Insurance is why actuaries exist. The industry and the profession are hard to separate.
Using predictive math, actuaries try to make sure insurers of all kinds don’t run out of money to pay claims. Many actuaries also work for consultants whose clients include insurance companies.
Undisclosed in the SOA report was the fact that about half the people who oversaw it work for the health insurance industry that is warning about rate shock. The chairman of society committee supervising the project was Kenny Kan, chief actuary at Maryland-based CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.