Hennepin Health Quarterly Newsletter

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hennepin health quarterly newsletter

 March 2017

Hennepin Health to Welcome More Members in May

Effective May 1, 2017, Medica will no longer be a health plan option for Hennepin County residents with Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare (MNCare), which means Hennepin Health will see a significant increase in its Prepaid Medical Assistance Program (PMAP) and MNCare membership as of this date. The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is working with those affected by this change to ensure their transition to a new plan goes smoothly.


Hennepin Health Adds Children's Hospital and Clinics to Network

Hennepin Health is pleased to announce the addition of Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota (Children’s) to its PMAP/MNCare network effective April 1, 2017. Children’s is already serving Hennepin Health-SNBC members, and now will become a service option for Hennepin Health-PMAP and Hennepin Health-MNCare members as well. All Children’s locations are included in this change. 

The addition of Children’s to the PMAP/MNCare network is particularly exciting as Hennepin Health looks forward to the opportunity to serving a larger membership effective May 1, 2017, which will include an increased number of families with children.


Meet Andy the Actuary!

Andy Brantner

Flashback to several years ago in the heart of Wisconsin … a young mathematics major strolls back to his dorm after completing an exam that demonstrates his mastery of letters pretending to be numbers, the perfect square trinomial and the standard form of equation of parabola.

Little did he know that his love of probability and algorithms, along with a slight flair for the dramatic, would take him beyond the regular fate of a math student. Rather than stand at a blackboard and teach equations to junior high school students, Andy Brantner decided to become – cue trumpets – an actuary. And since 2007, Andy has been using his sharp analytical and risk management skills to ensure Hennepin Health remains stable and profitable.  

On the surface, Andy appears to share characteristics with a Magic 8 Ball, as he’s asked to predict risk and future costs of health care. His job, however, doesn’t allow him to give the standard answers of “reply is hazy” or “concentrate and ask again.” Instead, Andy is asked to predict cost margins within three-quarters to one percent. If his estimations are off more than this, Hennepin Health couldn’t remain in business. 

To do this, Andy analyzes multiple points of data and decides what it means. One source of data he uses is claims data. This data represents the member population, and comes from hospitals, physician groups and HMOs located throughout Minnesota and the Midwest. Another source of data he uses is from member appointments. Every time a member sees a provider, data is collected. For example, if a member goes to see a doctor about a sinus infection, there’s a record that includes demographic information, what diagnosis was made and what services were provided. Over time, a massive stack of electronic bills are generated that can be plugged into statistical models to help project what will happen in the future. 

In addition to analyzing claims data, Andy must review health care inflation trends and determine the changes in care required by the population served. Then, he takes all of this information and pushes it forward, offering opinions and ideas to Hennepin Health’s leadership team, and helping them negotiate a budget with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS also employs its own actuaries that offer opinions on expected health care costs. The process then becomes like a business transaction; Andy explains his position and the State’s actuary explains hers. Generally, their opinions are similar. “Applying sound judgment, and being honest and accurate, should lead [two different actuaries] to a similar range of values,” says Andy.

The complexity of actuarial work required that Andy complete seven to 10 years of training from an actuarial organization once he completed college. This training consists of a series of tests that are designed to have a failure rate of up to 70 percent – Andy scored 0 out of 10 on his first test. “It was hard to take,” says Andy. “I had gotten As on every math test I had ever taken.” The difficulty of these tests ensures that those who become actuaries meet high standards. The actuarial boards – The Society of Actuaries and The American Academy of Actuaries – also instill a code of conduct. The profession is very ethics driven, and requires high levels of honesty and integrity.

Andy loves being an actuary. “It allows me to see the large picture that most people don’t get the opportunity to see. And it’s not just the numbers; it’s the people that are important. I can see myself doing this for another 30 years because it’s not normal. Every day is different.”

While it’s been a long time since Andy’s student days in Wisconsin, he continues to spend time dreaming of numbers. Now, those numbers include a wife and four children. He also enjoys woodworking, another hobby that entails measurement and definition. He started with building a picnic table, and then progressed to small tables, a dining room table and finally, an entertainment center. Mum’s the word though on whether or not a Magic 8 Ball sits on one of the shelves. 

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