Nov 29, 2009

Actuarial Health Care Reform Puzzle

From a European perspective it's hard to understand why the US Health Care Reform creates such a fuzz.

Behind Health Care Reform
At first sight one might think American values were somehow at stake, as UCLA's Dr. Marc Nuwer, a leading expert on national health care reform, stated back in 2008:

  • "To heal our ailing health care system, we need to stop thinking like Americans."

  • "Americans prize individual choice and resist limiting care"

As one-sixth of Americans are uninsured and especially elderly people are in need of good (insured) health care, one would expect this group to support this new health reform. Think again, the majority of elderly people voted against a guarantee of health insurance for all Americans:

Not a surprise for actuaries of course, because we were already aware of the interesting age-distribution of the uninsured.

Recently, Tyler Cowen, a economics professor at George Mason University additionally stated : Further health care reform doesn’t now seem to promise much to old people, except spending cuts on them. Given their limited time horizons, old people don’t so much value systemwide improvements, which invariably take some while to pay off.

For those of you who are interested in the background and consequences of pay offs regarding limited time horizons, (generation) discount rates and 'Gamma Discounting', the article Caring about the Distant Future: Why It Matters and What It Means from professor Tyler Cowen is a joy to read.

Certainly a 'must read' for actuaries.

Future Health Care Reform
Anyhow, the House of Representatives passed the sweeping health care bill recently.

Puzzle is that this bill has nowhere to go in the Senate, as the stumbling block is that government will have to compete with the private insurers.

The solution to this problem is as simple as can be:

Implement the headlines of the Dutch Health Care Model

Key elements of the new (2006) Dutch Health Insurance Act are:
  • All adults are obliged to buy health insurance and can choose any insurer
  • Children (under 18 years) are insured for free
  • Low income groups receive financial compensation by tax reduction
  • All insurers must offer a (governm. def.) policy to anyone who applies
  • Basic benefit package is almost comprehensive
  • Insurers get compensation for taking on higher risk patients from the risk equalization fund
  • Insurers can offer complementary health insurance packages under free market conditions
  • Consumers have the right to change insurer at the end of every calendar year if not satisfied or if they change employer
  • Insurers have the role of prudent purchasers of health care
    (value for money)
  • Providers are encouraged by insurers to deliver high quality care at low costs

In a 2009 Irish (Dublin) Health Actuary Seminar called 'More for less', the Dutch health actuary Enne Osinga explains more of the consequences of this new (2006) Dutch Health Care Model in a presentation called: The Dutch Experience .

I trust the US succeeds in making this important turn around!

- Tyler Cowen: Caring about the Distant Future: Why It Matters..
- Economics
- Yahoo
- Health Coverage & Uninsured (2009, 2007)
- RIVM Article:Regulated competition behind the dykes?
- Enne Osinga: The Dutch Experience

Nov 27, 2009

Invest or laugh

Every crisis generates his own new quotes. Currently, investment quotes are the top.

Perhaps two of the best investment quotes ever are from AIG Vice Chairman Jacob Frenkel:

"The left side of the balance sheet has nothing right and the right side of the balance sheet has nothing left. But they are equal to each other. So accounting-wise we are fine."


"Credit markets do not function. Why not, because the word credit comes from credibility"

But there's more... A nice summary of investment ROFL quotes can be find on Ian Thomson's blog Investor Jokes.

As actuaries, let's profit from Ian's latest insights and gain some extra education points by studying the next new investment definitions:

  • A long term investment: Short term investment that failed.
  • Momentum Investing: The fine art of buying high and selling low.
  • Value Investing: The art of buying low and selling lower

Probably investors and actuaries will have a hard time understanding each other, as the difference between them is in the 'tail' .....

Also large-cap fund managers have a hard time these days. No wonder everybody starts looking for a small-cap fund manager....
But how do you find one? Ians' answer is simple: Find a good large-cap fund manager, and wait...

Anyhow, keep up your good mood and laughs, as more investment 'animals' will show up next months.....

Let's conclude this blog with an old actuarial warning:

"Where there's smoke, someone gets fired"

P.S. For some more 'serious' investment quotes take a look at 52 Must Read quotes from the legendary Investor Warren Buffett. I'll quote some of the best here:
  • I never attempt to make money on the stock market. I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.
  • If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians (actuaries?).
  • It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.
  • It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.
  • It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.
  • Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
  • Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.
  • Risk is a part of God’s game, alike for men and nations.

How can actuaries profit from Buffett's quotes?

- Greekshares Jokes
- Ian's Investor Jokes
- Warren Buffett: 52 Must Read quotes

Nov 20, 2009

CERA: Actuaries on a new track

Actuaries are taking a new step towards professional risk management.

After the U.S. started in 2007 the initiative for this new direction in the actuarial profession, this month the Society of Actuaries (SOA) signed a treaty with 13 other international actuarial organizations to establish the Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA) as the globally recognized enterprise risk management (ERM) credential.

The designation will recognize actuaries globally who meet stringent education requirements in ERM and are governed by a strong code of professional conduct. The “CERA” letters after an actuary’s name indicates to the business world that there is no other type of risk professional better equipped to take a 360-degree view of an organization’s risk profile.

CERAs don’t merely speak to what we can lose, they focus on what we can gain.

Enterprise Risk Management isn't just about dealing with financial risk. ERM is an attitude, a new way of thinking. CERAs will become the boards most reliable advisors, they can't do without.


Nov 17, 2009

Reward Wisdom

We all know the quote

'If you pay peanuts you get monkeys'

Unfortunately the opposite is also true:

"If you pay bonuses, you get donkeys"

There is nothing against an attractive yearly bonus reward, based on challenging but nevertheless realistic (long term) goals in line with a confirmed and balanced risk approach.

Excessive bonus rewards however, seduce people to inferior (selling) methods or taking unacceptable (covered) risks.

An excessive bonus reward system always poisons the company and attracts the 'wrong' people. Your company doesn't need high risk takers or 'luck seekers'. Think twice....

Nov 4, 2009

Risk IQ Test

What's your Risk IQ?

In a few minutes you'll know by taking this RISK IQ Test.

Actuaries are often born CROs (Chief Risk Officers), so this test will probabely be a peace of cake for any actuary with CRO aspirations.....

Simply scroll through the next Powerpoint presentation from Fintools.

Each slide contains a multiple choice question.
Think about the answer and then scroll (click on the right part of the presentation) to the next slide for the final answer...

Hope you succeeded....

If not... get some training at Fintools

Original Source: Fintools