Deb Muller

Chief Administrative Officer at Avera Health Plans

Growing up on the farm, my mother hosted tea parties for my sister and me using a chocolate set that had been handed down for generations — my great-grandmother to my grandmother to my mother. We would wear matching dresses, we would have pink and red heart shaped cookies and we sipped our “tea” with our pinkies extended. Almost a half century ago, she captured two little girls on an old 8 mm film camera on a Saturday morning. On my last birthday, my grand nieces joined me for our 21st century tea party using the same chocolate set and capturing that moment in photos that I hope someday will form a montage of a tradition that will span the ages. Our family holds dear to those traditions that make us smile and bring comfort in an ever changing world.

As the Chief Administrative Officer for Avera Health Plans, I am reminded daily of how our world is changing. In January 2014, some of the most sweeping changes will come in the health insurance world when the Affordable Care Act moves to implement Marketplaces and reforms that will extend coverage to those who previously were not able to gain access to coverage due to a serious health condition. These are good changes. And then there are the bigger questions of how we will afford to pay for health care — as individual consumers, as taxpayers and as employers.

Before coming to Avera Health Plans I graduated from South Dakota State University, Brookings, with a degree in economics and went on to attain my master’s degree in Hospital Administration from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. I then worked in a few different areas of health care management in both private and public sectors. When I’m not working I enjoy spending time with my lovely nieces and other friends and family. I have a best friend in my dog Jackson and enjoy spoiling him.

Blending a background in health policy and twenty-five years of experience in health care delivery and financing, this moment in time, is an opportunity to put all the pieces together and help fix the bad things in health care insurance, shape what can be effective and engage everyone in a journey towards good health and wellness for generations to come.

Author Archive | Deb Muller

The Future of the Affordable Care Act: Be Part of the Conversation

There are many unanswered questions regarding how health insurance will be affected when President-Elect Donald Trump takes office in 2017. President-Elect Trump has indicated he appreciates certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act, namely ensuring dependents can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26 and maintaining some type of coverage access for individuals with pre-existing conditions, but we don’t know the future. Read More »
Health Insurance · Avera Health

Individual Premium Increases – 2017: What You Don’t Know May Cost You $$$

Last week, individuals who purchased an individual health care policy on or after Jan. 1, 2014, received news that their premiums were going up and they were going up by a lot.  Depending upon where you lived in the country, your health plan choices may also have been limited as health insurance carriers narrowed their offerings in the individual market for 2017.  Read More »
Health Insurance · Avera Health
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Part 2: What’s so Affordable About the Affordable Care Act?

People often ask me, “where is the ‘affordable’ in the “Affordable Care Act?”  Talk about a loaded question.  Allow me one nerdy moment courtesy of Milliman – the largest worldwide actuarial consulting firm.  They have done the Milliman Medical Cost Index research annually since 2001.  Read More »
Health Insurance · Avera Health
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Part 1: Why Is Health Insurance SO Expensive?

This is one of the most common questions I get – or a variation on it.  Did you raise my premiums because I had claims? Why did you raise my premiums when I didn’t have any claims? I’ve been struggling with writing this blog for a couple of weeks now.  Read More »
Health Insurance · Avera Health

Spread the Word About Tax Credits and Subsidies

DAKOTACARE policyholders who applied on healthcare.gov will lose tax credits and/or cost-sharing subsidies in 2016. Do your neighbor a favor. It’s the holidays and your neighbor may need your help and not even know it. DAKOTACARE announced that they are not offering plans on healthcare.gov this year. Read More »
Health Insurance · Avera Health

Taking Care of People

This week’s headlines announced that an insurance carrier was leaving the Marketplace for 2016 and that two health insurance companies were giving significant rate increases – one over 40 percent, another over 60 percent. This wasn’t “new” news to those of us watching in the health insurance business. Read More »
Health Insurance · Avera Health