Critical Point

Milliman, Inc.

Objectivity matters. Today, more than ever. With no agenda, other than getting it right, Milliman’s Critical Point podcast takes a deep dive into subject matter that affects the health and well-being of people across the globe, from healthcare to retirement security, flood insurance to autonomous vehicles. Through a team of professionals ranging from actuaries to clinicians, technology specialists to economists, Critical Point examines the inherent challenges – and innovative solutions – that Milliman consultants encounter through their daily work around healthcare, employee benefits, risk management, technology, investment consulting, insurance, and financial services.

  • 29 minutes 9 seconds
    Why life insurers are investing in private equity and real estate

    Life insurers have historically invested their portfolios in the relative safety of mortgages and bonds, but economic volatility, sticky inflation, and other headwinds have spurred many insurance companies to diversify into alternatives, a trend explored in a recent Milliman paper. On this episode of Critical Point, three of the paper’s authors discuss two alternative asset classes that are particularly attractive to insurers in today’s market: private equity and real estate. They talk about unexpected assets like student housing and storage facilities, the synergy of private equity firms investing in insurers and vice versa, and why many insurance companies continue to hold commercial real estate despite post-pandemic office vacancies.

    You can read the episode transcript on our website.

    16 May 2024, 4:00 pm
  • 19 minutes 57 seconds
    Are corporate pension plans making a comeback?

    For decades, companies with traditional pensions have been freezing those plans and replacing them with defined contribution options to help their employees save for retirement. But IBM made headlines when it restored its defined benefit program in early 2024. Three Milliman pension actuaries discuss this choice, new hybrid DB plan designs, and how plan sponsors can avoid the mistakes that led them to close their pension plans in the first place.
    You can read the episode transcript on our website.

    11 March 2024, 5:00 pm
  • 41 minutes 18 seconds
    Growing the actuarial profession in the developing world: Where the UNDP-GAIN initiative stands after one year

    Actuaries are vital to the insurance industry and national economies, but the profession is still emerging in many developing countries. That’s why Milliman and the United Nations Development Programme have launched a program to increase actuarial capacity around the world. In this episode, five Milliman volunteers reflect on the initiative’s first year and their work in 10 countries, from Nigeria to Nepal.

    You can read the episode transcript on our website.

    5 December 2023, 11:00 pm
  • 38 minutes 23 seconds
    Artificial intelligence and insurance, part 2: Rise of the machine-learning models

    In our second Critical Point episode about AI applications in insurance, we drill down into the topic of machine learning and particularly its evolving uses in healthcare. Milliman Principal and Consulting Actuary Robert Eaton leads a conversation with fellow data science leaders about the models they use, the challenges of data accessibility and quality, and working with regulators to ensure fairness. They also pick sides in the great debate of Team Stochastic Parrot versus Team Sparks AGI. 

    You can read the episode transcript on our website.

    16 October 2023, 8:00 pm
  • 34 minutes 5 seconds
    Artificial intelligence and insurance, part 1: AI’s impact on the insurance value chain

    Artificial intelligence has been the buzz term of 2023, evolving at a pace unimaginable when Milliman launched this podcast five years ago. For this 50th episode of Critical Point, we gathered a group of our AI experts to discuss how the technology is poised to reshape the insurance value chain, from hiring practices and actuarial modeling to customer service and communication.

    You can read the episode transcript on our website.

    25 September 2023, 6:00 pm
  • 25 minutes 21 seconds
    How extreme heat affects insurance—and how the industry can respond

    Insurers are feeling the heat as another record-breaking summer finally cools off. In this episode of Critical Point, Milliman leaders Rich Moyer, Garrett Bradford, and Andi Shah—who have studied the impact of extreme heat from the Middle East to Europe to North Carolina—discussed the ramifications on property, workers’ compensation, health, and other types of insurance. They also talk about data, including available sources for measuring heat risk now, and the data they would like to see to help measure the future effects of a warming planet. 

    You can read the episode transcript on our website.

    21 August 2023, 4:00 pm
  • 13 minutes 55 seconds
    Could pensions save big this year? Experts weigh in on 2023 PBGC premiums

    After 2022’s rollercoaster of soaring interest rates and plunging investment returns, sponsors of single-employer defined benefit plans face a key choice as they calculate the 2023 variable rate premium they’ll pay to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Milliman pension actuaries Casey Baldwin and Ryan Cook spoke with Nina Lantz about using the full yield curve, not being afraid of the five-year lock-in, and how switching from the alternative calculation method to the standard method can mean the difference between a $100,000 premium and a premium of $1.7 million.

    You can read the episode transcript on our website.

    10 August 2023, 6:00 pm
  • 23 minutes 41 seconds
    Inclusivity in employee benefits: DE&I concerns in plan design and communication

    As companies embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts, many are realizing their benefit policies and communications can help address health inequities and be more inclusive. From modernizing the language in plan documents, to simplifying fertility care for same-sex couples, to not showing a skinny marathoner in the ads for your fitness challenge, Milliman’s Chief DE&I Officer joined health benefits experts to discuss how plan sponsors can help make sure all beneficiaries get the care they need.

    You can read the episode transcript on our website

    16 June 2023, 5:00 pm
  • 23 minutes 1 second
    SECURE 2.0, Part 1: Tips for DC plans navigating contribution changes

    When the SECURE 2.0 Act passed in late 2022, it introduced 92 provisions affecting retirement plans—and created a long to-do list for plan professionals. In this episode of Critical Point, Milliman employee benefits expert Nina Lantz talks with Brandy Cross, our director of defined contribution (DC) plan compliance, about how DC plans are coping. 

    Learn which provisions plan sponsors are addressing first, and why it’s OK to wait before making plan changes. Plus, don’t miss Nina’s companion episode on SECURE 2.0’s impact on defined benefit plans.

    You can read the episode transcript on our website .

    23 May 2023, 6:00 pm
  • 20 minutes 57 seconds
    SECURE 2.0, Part 2: How the new retirement law affects single-employer defined benefit plans

    In this companion episode to our look at SECURE 2.0 and defined contribution (DC) plans, Milliman employee benefits expert Nina Lantz explores how the new retirement law affects single-employer pensions. She talks with Milliman Consulting Actuary William Strange about what it means for retirement that life expectancy is rising more slowly, how companies can incentivize long-term employees, and why a reduction in insurance premiums could make corporate pension plan sponsorship appealing again.

     

    You can read the episode transcript on our website

    23 May 2023, 6:00 pm
  • 20 minutes 33 seconds
    The COVID-19 emergencies are ending. What does that mean for health plans?

    More than three years after the coronavirus shut down the world, the Biden administration announced in early 2023 the end of the U.S. National Emergency and the Public Health Emergency, two declarations that had mandated health insurance coverage of COVID-19 tests and vaccines, among other requirements. As these regulations are now rolled back, what does that mean for employer-sponsored health plans? 

    In this episode of Critical Point, Milliman health experts discuss the implications, from whether to continue paying for at-home COVID-19 tests and when to phase out standalone telehealth benefits, to how to communicate any changes with plan members at this significant moment in the pandemic. 

    You can read the episode transcript on our website.

    25 April 2023, 8:00 pm
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