In traditional life insurance, actuarial science focuses on the analysis of mortality, the production of life tables, and the application of compound interest to produce life insurance, annuities and endowment policies. Contemporary life insurance programs have been extended to include credit and mortgage insurance, key person insurance for small businesses, long term care insurance and health savings accounts.
In health insurance, including insurance provided directly by employers, and social insurance, actuarial science focuses on the analysis of rates of disability, morbidity, mortality, fertility and other contingencies. The effects of consumer choice and the geographical distribution of the utilization of medical services and procedures, and the utilization of drugs and therapies, is also of great importance. These factors underlay the development of the Resource-Base Relative Value Scale (RBRVS) at Harvard in a multi-disciplined study (Hsiao 2004).
Actuarial science also aids in the design of benefit structures, reimbursement standards, and the effects of proposed government standards on the cost of healthcare (CHBRP 2004). In the pension industry, actuarial methods are used to measure the costs of alternative strategies with regard to the design, funding, accounting, administration, and maintenance or redesign of pension plans.
The strategies are greatly influenced by short-term and long-term bond rates, the funded status of the pension and benefit arrangements, collective bargaining; the employer's old, new and foreign competitors; the changing demographics of the workforce; changes in the internal revenue code; changes in the attitude of the internal revenue service regarding the calculation of surpluses; and equally importantly, both the short and long term financial and economic trends. It is common with mergers and acquisitions that several pension plans have to be combined or at least administered on an equitable basis.