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Amanda Bennett Lothrop, '06

In the past year, health care reform captured America's attention. People packed town hall meetings. They flooded senators with correspondence. Because the reform is a complicated departure from the status quo, most are armchair quarterbacks in the debate.

Amanda Bennett Lothrop '06, however, has as much expertise as some of the politicians who cast a vote. As a health care actuary with Deloitte Consulting LLP in Chicago, it's Amanda's job to know the intricacies and repercussions of health care reform.

She spends her days helping businesses plan for health care reform and its impact. Some days, she meets with companies to figure out the best type of health insurance to provide in the future. Other days, she might be asked to help state organizations develop the insurance benefits it wants to offer under a new system.

Through her work, the 2006 graduate has gained a deep understanding of the inner workings of the health care industry, politics and the court of public opinion.

"It's amazing how the general public interprets the facts behind health reform," she said.

When she hears someone say: "I don't want the government to be in charge of who lives and dies in this country," she knows the facts behind the statement.

"I really enjoy knowing that I've read the documents and understand not only that death panels won't exist, but also which section of the legislation is being misinterpreted."

Amanda's mathematics degree from Doane includes an actuarial science emphasis. She also took several business and economics classes to better prepare her for the field. It helped her gain entry to Deloitte's Leadership Academy her sophomore year of college, an internship with the firm her junior year, and the job offer following commencement.

"I am unbelievably grateful for the solid education I received at Doane that prepared me to jump right into this career and the heat of this debate."

While legislation was being developed, Deloitte helped facilitate discussions between key players in the insurance industry, such as insurance companies and health care providers.

"The company itself is pretty actively involved in the health industry," Amanda said.

An actuary is basically the mathematician behind insurance. "It's the ability to critically analyze a situation and to use what has happened in the past to predict what will happen in the future."

She credits associate professor of mathematics Peggy Hart with preparing her for the position at Deloitte. "It's the level of detail she puts into it," Amanda said.

Hart made significant changes to the actuarial emphasis of the program around the time Amanda arrived at Doane. Students can complete extra accreditations that actuary associations recognize. Hart also works one-on-one with students to prepare them for the actuarial exams.

"She helped us gauge our best routes and the best firms to send our résumés to. I've done a fair amount of recruiting, and what she did to prepare us is so much more than the big colleges."

The computer coding Hart taught is especially helpful in her job. The coding allows actuaries like herself to take large amounts of data and pull out what they want. Predictive models that she builds from scratch in Excel assist her in gauging potential impacts.

Hart also gave her a realistic view of what the actuarial field would be like, she said. One of Amanda's roles is to read national health care legislation and translate what each bill would mean to the health care industry. She travels weekly to identify financial and operational effects of health care reform on clients of the firm.

Definite winners and losers will emerge in the future, she said. "The clear winners are the 30-plus million uninsured who would gain affordable access to health care."

Identifying the losers is more controversial, she said, but one set may be those with particularly generous health care coverage currently.

Her experience in the industry leads her to believe health care reform is long overdue. She is grateful for the chance to contribute to something that affects so many. "I'll always look back on this time in my life and remember the quirky news stories and interesting conversations I had with virtual strangers, discussing the intricacies of a topic that will permanently alter the way our nation functions."