There is work underway in the Opus College of Business to develop a more substantive working relationship with UST’s Actuarial Science program. The Actuarial Science program recently received the Center for Actuarial Excellence (CAE) designation, and thus has been elevated to a status shared with very few programs around the world. Additionally, this past year a partnering agreement was signed with Herriot Watt University in Scotland to extend the global orientation of the actuarial studies at St. Thomas.

As a first effort in developing a closer working arrangement between the Opus College of Business and the Actuarial Science program, a jointly developed course on Global Insurance Markets was run in London during the 2014 J-Term. 25 students traveled with Professors Peter Young and Thorsten Moenig to participate in what is expected to be an ongoing course offered in alternating years.

Significantly, a portion of the course was devoted to understanding risk financing in health care and—obviously—the orientation was on a comparative analysis of health care systems in developed and developing nations. It will surprise almost no one to learn that the U.S. system faces a number of challenges—the two most vivid facts being that we spend one and a half times more on health care than any other country, while being far from the top in terms of broad performance measures.

There are numerous explanations for this ‘bang for the buck’ problem, but understandably our actuarial students were focused on the financing side of the issue and here two broad themes emerged; first, the challenges of understanding system-wide pricing of health care (in a system as complicated as ours), and second, the emergence of what might be called the global health care industry, which is reckoned to have a major impact on health, health care, and health care systems.

Expect to hear more about St. Thomas’ work on the intersection of health care and actuarial science in the future.