Top 15 stories of 2012

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In 2012, Milliman published a wide variety of articles, including timely analysis related to issues such as the drought in the American Midwest and the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in the American Northeast. In addition, we published extensively on new approaches to ongoing challenges related to managing healthcare costs, healthcare reform, retirement planning, managing pension portfolios, and insurance and risk management issues.

In case you missed them, here are this year’s fifteen most viewed articles, videos, and reports on Insight:

15. Advances in managing pension asset volatility
By Paul Bonsee | Tamara Burden | Zorast Wadia

A profound shift is taking place in the way pension plan fiduciaries manage market risk and help participants save for retirement. It is being driven by strategies that go beyond asset allocation and seek to actively account for changing market conditions, striving to protect growth in bull markets and defend against losses during major downturns. Plan fiduciaries charged with growing and nurturing plan portfolios, endowments, and other trust funds, may want to consider new strategies.

Hedging is a more efficient risk management tool

14. Wind deductibles and Hurricane Sandy: What does it mean for total insured losses?

By Philip S. Borba

When Hurricane Sandy made landfall along the northeast coast, recorded wind speeds indicated the storm had diminished to “merely” a tropical storm. While this technical distinction made little difference for the people in the path of Sandy’s storm surge, it appears to have created significant financial implications for homeowners, businesses, and the property insurers who protect them.

13. Medical professional liability: The other insurance market affected by health reform
By Derek Jones

A key element of the The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the introduction of accountable care organizations (ACOs). While better outcomes are expected for healthcare providers, the emergence—and likely persistence—of the ACO model will present challenges to MPL writers.

12. Significant losses forecasted for crop insurance industry due to 2012 drought
By Carl Ashenbrenner

This widely-read analysis originally estimated that underwriting losses for 12 major corn/soybean-producing states could top $2.8 billion. With drought conditions worsening and crop futures prices increasing throughout the summer, the estimate was later revised to $7.2 billion in underwriting losses.

11. Understanding healthcare costs: The employer-sponsored insurance system

Our most popular video from 2012 explains the flow of money into and out of the employer-sponsored insurance system. A second installment of this series on healthcare costs went live in October and covered the intricacies of Medicaid. (You can find all our videos here.)

10. Measuring the strength of the individual mandate
By Paul Houchens

Beginning in 2014, the individual health insurance market, with the exclusion of grandfathered plans, will require all policies to be guaranteed issue and community rated. The individual mandate is intended to reduce the degree of adverse selection that would otherwise occur in such an environment. This analysis discusses the individual mandate’s penalties in relation to the expected out-of-pocket premium for bronze-level coverage in the individual market.

9. Fracking: Considerations for risk management and financing
By Richard Soulsby | Jason Kurtz | Bhavini Kamarshi

Rapid developments in the energy industry have focused public attention on the practice of hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking. This article addresses risk management considerations and strategies, including the potential for strengthened insurance requirements to protect the public, particularly those who suffer injury or property damage, from ultimately bearing the cost of pollution.

Outstanding student loans ($ trillions)

8. The student loan debt crisis in perspective
By Jonathan B. Glowacki | Leighton Hunley

Despite a heated debate, the student loan debt crisis is unlikely to cause financial damage similar to the mortgage crisis. However, the full impact of ballooning student loan debt on consumers is currently unknown. Changes to the system could be made to improve the outlook for this market that may help to quell the public prodding and general concern.

7. Effective employee communication: The benefits of best practices
By Denise Foster | Sharon Stocker | Heidi tenBroek

Employers spend millions of dollars to offer a benefit and sometimes a surprisingly small amount to ensure that employees understand and appreciate it. Effective communication can affect how employees feel and think about their benefits, workplace, and employer.

6. Retirement planning: 12 practical tips for Millennials
By Jinnie Regli

Every generation has its own set of challenges and adversities to conquer, but the so-called Millennials face a uniquely challenging economic environment. With financial and career concerns, saving for retirement may not be the first thing on most Millennials’ minds, but there’s planning and action needed now to secure a stable retirement future.

The next two articles, published early in the year, looked forward to possible scenarios and developments with concerning retirement plans and healthcare.

5. Healthcare reform in 2012: Blind curves ahead
By Michael G. Sturm | John D. Meerschaert

With the outcomes of the Supreme Court proceedings and the November general election still uncertain in the beginning of the year, this article reviews a variety of possible outcomes and how they would affect healthcare reform.

4. Retirement plans: What to look for in 2012
By Tim Connor | Genny Sedgwick

A look at the issues that were expected to affect defined benefit and defined contribution plans in 2012.

Financial impact of hardship withdrawals3. The high cost of 401(k) hardship withdrawals
By James Thompson

During the past few years, many retirement plan participants have struggled to make ends meet. Many turned to their retirement plans and took out hardship withdrawals to help ease their financial burdens. This article lays out the hard financial consequences of making a hardship request.

2. Ten strategic considerations of the Supreme Court upholding PPACA

Our response to the Supreme Court’s decision on the US healthcare reform law analyzed the Court’s watershed decision and what insurers, employers, providers, taxpayers, and the government should consider now. Our analysis was singled out by the Columbia Journalism Review as best in its field.

1. 2012 Milliman Medical Index
By Lorraine Mayne | Chris Girod | Scott Weltz

With the rise of healthcare costs continuously in the news, this report receives lots of coverage from the media. The 2012 Milliman Medical Index reported that average healthcare costs for American families for the first time exceeded $20,000—about the cost of a midsize sedan.

2012 Milliman Medical Index

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