The American Academy of Actuaries continues to work toward advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the actuarial profession, and one of the organization’s board members gave a rundown of its recent DEI activities.
Annette James is a member of the academy’s board of directors and immediate past chairperson of the academy’s DEI Committee. She gave a briefing on the academy’s work with affinity organizations representing different constituencies within the profession. In addition, she described the academy’s public policy work and activities across all actuarial practice areas to consider and develop approaches to issues such as equity, bias, and implementation of insurance anti-discrimination regulation.
The academy is engaging with Abacus Actuaries, the Sexuality and Gender Alliance of Actuaries, the International Association of Black Actuaries, the Network of Actuarial Women and Allies, the Organization of Latino Actuaries, and the South Asian Network of Actuaries. Representatives of each of these organizations joined the academy for a discussion of DEI in the industry during the academy’s recent annual meeting.
In mid-November, James led the academy’s first health symposium, which was aimed at helping actuaries work with various parts of the health care system, from care management to health care financing. In addition, she said, the academy conducted outreach to a wide range of outside groups to get different perspectives on how health benefit design can be addressed through an equity lens.
Series of briefs issued
That outreach resulted in the academy issuing a series of briefs, “Health Benefit Design Innovations for Advancing Health Equity: Removing the Barriers to Successful Implementation.” In that series, the academy described factors that contribute to health disparities, which are differences in health or key determinants of health that adversely affect historically marginalized or excluded groups. The academy’s Health Equity Committee explored how employers are using health plan benefit design innovations to advance health equity, as well as the challenges they face and the ways they overcome these challenges.
The academy released an issue brief in August on “Discrimination: Considerations for Machine Learning, AI Models and Underlying Data.” That issue brief explored the topic of discrimination in machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence algorithms, and the underlying data of these models.
One of the key points in the issue brief is that unfair discrimination takes place when insurers consider factors that are unrelated to actuarial risk while determining whether to provide insurance to particular individuals or groups and, if so, at what price and at what terms.
The issue brief goes on to say that insurance legislation has put in place measures to prevent discrimination while still permitting actuarially justified risk selection. However, within insurance companies, various functions – such as marketing, rating and underwriting – have been more reliant on big data, algorithms and machine learning. These processes might use variables that appear neutral on the surface but can lead to unequal impacts on different groups of people.
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents’ association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at Susan.Rupe@innfeedback.com. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
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