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Medicare’s Hospital Trust Fund Could Run Dry in 2026: Maryellen Coggins

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Maryellen Coggins is helping policymakers throughout the United States do the math needed to understand risk.

Coggins is a managing director for risk and capital management services at PwC. She’s also the new president of the American Academy of Actuaries.

Actuaries formed the academy in 1965. The academy serves as a vehicle that actuaries can use to help federal, state and local officials with activities such as keeping Social Security solvent and ensuring that public employee pension plans will have enough resources to pay the benefits promised.

Via email, we asked Coggins a set of questions that touch both on her professional knowledge and on what she does off the clock.

1. What market indicator, industry statistic, regulatory change or advisor trend are you watching most closely right now and why?

There’s a lot going on in the public policy arena.

Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is projected to be exhausted in 2026, and whether and how that is addressed would have important implications.

Participants in multiemployer pension plans, especially those that are financially distressed, may want to stay apprised of if and how the new special financial assistance program being implemented by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation affects their plans.

Insurers are increasingly being asked to disclose the potential financial impacts of climate change, and cyber and wildfire risks and insurance coverages are in the spotlight due to the events of 2021.

There’s growing focus at different levels of government on how to address racial and other disparities or inequities, including the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) comprehensive data collection effort on insurance inequities — an effort that the academy is assisting with.

A new risk-rating program for the National Flood Insurance Program could affect flood insurance premiums, up or down.

2. Who or what critical source of information do you track, or follow online, to keep up with this or other trends?

More on this topic

The American Academy of Actuaries continually engages with public policymakers and conducts significant research on the actuarial components of public policy proposals, legislation, and regulation.

Our Essential Elements issue papers and publications available at actuary.org provide excellent summaries and reports of our analysis for major public programs like Social Security, Medicare, and the National Flood Insurance Program, as well as for private insurance and pension plans and systems.

3. Are you changing any of your work habits at this stage of the pandemic? Why/why not?

I am personally, and the academy generally is, beginning to participate in a limited number of in-person meetings, which have been truly wonderful!

4. What’s your biggest hobby, and what was the last event/activity you did related to it?

Hiking, locally in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, when I get the chance. The last New Hampshire hike was up Mount Monroe in September. The last major hiking trip was Mount Kilimanjaro, with my daughter, sister, and niece, in 2018.

5. How about your latest community/charitable activity/event/cause?

One area of our increased focus since COVID-19 began is supporting people suffering from food insecurity, including through the Greater Boston Food Bank, local food banks, and local senior groups.

6. What book are you reading now and why?

“Braiding Sweetgrass,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. It’s a beautiful book describing Indigenous culture and wisdom that reminds us about our relationship with the land and all of its inhabitants.

Maryellen Coggins (Photo: American Academy of Actuaries)