Help select Actuary of the Year – vote now!

Too often we actuaries think of ourselves as the little guy. But some of us do great things.
So now, an award for those who touched greatness: Actuary of the Year. Make your choice below.

Below the fold is a little about each nominee, courtesy of Liz Lynch (my wife), who blogs about genealogy at The Ancestral Archaeologist.

  • David Axene: The operation: A tiny space tacked onto the back of the house and affectionately called “the outhouse.” The staff: one son, one daughter-in-law and six other folks who work out of their houses.
    Axene’s little shop found the great big error in Anthem Blue Cross’ California filing that torpedoed a 39 percent rate increase request and may have revived Obamacare.
    Can somebody do a screenplay about this guy? I would pay to see the scene where Axene  puts in 66 hours during a week spent flat on his back in a hospital bed, “an IV in one hand and a cellphone in the other,” as the LA Times put it.
  • Bill Rudd: Never say never, and above all, never underestimate the power of an actuary who smells a rat.
    Rudd, former chief actuary for Canada’s London Life, thought the financing arrangements that made possible the 1997 takeover of London Life by Great-West Life stank, and he embarked on a 13-year lawsuit to prove it.
    Ultimately, the courts agreed with Rudd that raising cash for the deal by “liberating” funds from investment income held on behalf of policyholders was a no-no. Which means, potentially, that the shareholders need to repay the policyholders $456 million.
    Moral: Canadians are nice, all right. Unless they’re actuaries on a mission.
  • Richard Foster: Chief actuary for Social Security and Medicare, Foster was compelled to clear his throat and point out that projections in the Medicare trustees’ report did not synch up with the actuaries’ “best estimates” for future Medicare expenditures.
    It was a tricky moment, as Foster’s picture was not as rosy as the one painted by such officials as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. But in confronting the “strong likelihood” that many health-care overhaul measures won’t actually be implemented, putting projected cost efficiencies in doubt, Foster erred on the side of caution – and kicked up a fair amount of dust in the process.

Winner will be announced at year-end and will – let’s see – get a congratulatory email from me. Or maybe something he might actually want.

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