COVID-19: Audit Cites ‘Distortion, Suppression Of Facts’ In Nursing Home Reporting Under Cuomo



The state Health Department intentionally “misled the public” regarding the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes under former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, according to a scathing audit from the Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept through New York, the Department of Health was not prepared to respond to the infectious disease outbreaks in nursing homes, according to the audit, which helped lead to the inaccurate virus-related death count in facilities.

Auditors found that health officials undercounted the death toll in nursing homes by at least 4,100 residents and at times more than 50 percent, despite claims from the former governor, who said the state was doing well in protecting seniors.

Author(s): Zak Failla

Publication Date: 17 March 2022

Publication Site: New York Daily Voice

What are the Implications of Long COVID for Employment and Health Coverage?




Preliminary evidence suggests there may be significant implications for employment: Surveys show that among adults with long COVID who worked prior to infection, over half are out of work or working fewer hours (Figure 2). Many conditions associated with long COVID—such as malaise, fatigue, or the inability to concentrate—limit people’s ability to work, even if they have jobs that allow for remote work and other accommodations. Two surveys of people with long COVID who had worked prior to infection showed that between 22% and 27% of those workers were out of work after getting long COVID. In comparison, among all working-age adults in 2019, only 7% were out of work. Given the sheer number of working age adults with long COVID, the employment implications may be profound and are likely to affect more people over time. One study estimates that long COVID already accounts for 15 percent of unfilled jobs.

Author(s): Alice Burns

Publication Date: 1 Aug 2022

Publication Site: KFF

John Hancock to Pilot 50-Cancer Detection Test



John Hancock wants to find out what happens when life insurance insureds get a blood test that might reveal early signs of about 50 different types of cancer.

The Boston-based Manulife subsidiary is working with Munich Re and other reinsurers to offer a pilot program that will pay either 50% or 100% of the cost of Grail’s Galleri cancer screening test for insureds in the John Hancock Vitality wellness program.

John Hancock will not get individual test results for the insureds who use the pilot program, nor will the program results affect the participants’ coverage, premiums or Vitality points.

Author(s): Allison Bell

Publication Date: 20 Sept 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor

Can the CDC Repair Its Reputation?




The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must learn from the mistakes it made during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic if it wants to win back public trust, according to Wharton health care management professor Ingrid Nembhard.

She thinks CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is on the right path to do just that. Walensky, who was appointed by President Joe Biden in 2021, has announced a major overhaul to modernize the agency and get the public messaging right.


Nembhard is particularly hopeful about Walensky’s focus on changing the culture at the CDC. The infrastructure to conduct the science and disseminate the information is vital, but so is the culture. Reports have surfaced that paint the agency as clunky with a risk-averse culture.

“If you have all of the structures but nobody is speaking up, where are you?” Nembhard said. “You don’t have all the information that you need, and I think that’s been one of the realities that we’ve seen them having to deal with. You really do need to have your systems in place to be flexible, to be able to manage under ever-changing circumstances.”

Author(s): Angie Basiouny

Publication Date: 13 Sept 2022

Publication Site: Knowledge @ Wharton

Polio Is Back in the US and UK. Here’s How That Happened



Start with the vaccine formula—or formulas, actually, because there are two. They were born from a ferocious mid-20th century rivalry between scientists Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin. Salk’s formula, the first to be approved, is injected; it uses an inactivated version of the virus, and protects against developing disease, but does not stop viral transmission. Sabin’s formula, which came a few years later, used an artificially-weakened live virus. It does block transmission, and—because it is a liquid that gets squirted into a child’s mouth—it is cheaper to make and easier to distribute, since it doesn’t require trained healthcare workers or careful disposal of needles. Those qualities made the Sabin oral version, known as OPV, the bulwark of polio control, and eventually the main weapon in the global eradication campaign.

The oral vaccine had a unique benefit. Wild-type polio is actually a gut virus: It locks onto receptors in the intestinal lining and replicates there before migrating to the nerve cells that control muscles. But because it’s in the gut, it also passes out of the body in feces and then spreads to other people in contaminated water. The Sabin vaccine takes advantage of that process: The vaccine virus replicates in a child, gets pooped out, and spreads its protection to unvaccinated neighbors.

Yet that benefit concealed a tragic flaw. Once out of every several million doses, the weakened virus reverted to the neurovirulence of the wild type, destroying those motor neurons and causing polio paralysis. That mutation would also make a child who harbored the reverted virus a potential source of infection, rather than protection. That risk is what caused rich nations to abandon the oral version: In 1996, when wild polio was no longer occurring in the US, the oral vaccine caused about 10 cases of polio paralysis in children. The US switched to the injectable formula, known as IPV, in 2000, and the UK followed in 2004.

Polio vaccination requires several doses to create full protection, and once that occurs, children are protected against both wild-type and vaccine-derived versions of the virus. So the international vaccination campaign continued to rely on OPV, arguing that the risk would diminish as more children received protection. That was a reasonable gamble when the effort was new and health authorities thought it would take 10 to 12 years to achieve eradication. But thanks to funding shortfalls, political and religious unrest, and the Covid pandemic—which imposed a slowdown not just on eradication activities but on all childhood vaccines—it’s now been 34 years, and the job is not done. Meanwhile, last year in 20 countries there were a total of 688 cases of paralysis of what’s called “circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus,” and only six cases of wild-type polio, in three nations.


Publication Date: 24 Aug 2022

Publication Site: Wired

The Impacts of Covid-19 Illnesses on Workers




We show that Covid-19 illnesses persistently reduce labor supply. Using an event study, we estimate that workers with week-long Covid-19 work absences are 7 percentage points less likely to be in the labor force one year later compared to otherwise-similar workers who do not miss a week of work for health reasons. Our estimates suggest Covid-19 illnesses have reduced the U.S. labor force by approximately 500,000 people (0.2 percent of adults) and imply an average forgone earnings per Covid-19 absence of at least $9,000, about 90 percent of which reflects lost labor supply beyond the initial absence week.


Gopi Shah Goda
Evan J. Soltas

Publication Date: Sept 2022

Publication Site: Stanford University, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR)

Covid-19 Illnesses Are Keeping at Least 500,000 Workers Out of U.S. Labor Force, Study Says



Illness caused by Covid-19 shrank the U.S. labor force by around 500,000 people, a hit that is likely to persist if the virus continues to sicken workers at current rates, according to a new study released Monday.

Millions of people left the labor force — the number of people working or looking for work — during the pandemic for various reasons, including retirement, lack of child care and fear of Covid. The total size of the labor force reached 164.7 million people in August, exceeding the February 2020 prepandemic level for the first time. The labor force would have 500,000 more members if not for the people sickened by Covid, according to the study’s authors, economists Gopi Shah Goda of Stanford University and Evan J. Soltas at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“If we stay where we are with Covid infection rates going forward, we expect that 500,000-person loss to persist until either exposure goes down or severity goes down,” said Mr. Soltas. That assumes that some of those previously sickened eventually return to work.

Author(s): Gwynn Guilford

Publication Date: 12 Sept 2022

Publication Site: WSJ

Group Term Life – Results of 2021 U.S. Market Survey




Gen Re is pleased to share the results from our latest U.S. Group Term Life Market Survey, an industry benchmarking survey covering the Group Term Life (GTL) and AD&D industry. The survey tracks sales and in‑force results as well as lapse rate and employee-paid data.

Twenty-one of the 29 companies participating in the 2021 survey have provided Group Term Life data over the past 10 survey years.

Twenty-nine companies provided GTL results for 2021. Twenty-seven provided AD&D results. On a combined basis, total GTL and AD&D in‑force premium reached $31.6 billion, with GTL representing the majority (94%) of the total. (Exhibit A)

For GTL in‑force premium, reported industry growth has ranged between 2% and 5% over the past 10 years. In 2021, in‑force premium grew by 6% compared to 2020.

After a five-year low of 1% growth in 2020, AD&D in‑force premium rose by 3% in 2021. (Exhibit B)

Author(s): Nicole Conti

Publication Date: 7 June 2022

Publication Site: Gen Re

Does Aging-In-Place Work? What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us.




In the book Aging in the Right Place from 2015, author Stephen Golant provides a number of reasons why that “right place” might be the longtime family home:

•The advantages of a familiar neighborhood: the individual knows the shops and services and can navigate the area well even after physical or cognitive decline.

•The advantages of a familiar home: spatial competence (finding your way when the power goes out, navigating steps out of familiarity)

•Preserving familiar relationships – friendships and service providers.

•The attachment to possessions and pets is not disrupted (e.g., vs. moving to no-pets home); the home not only contains memories of the past but also reminders of past successes.

•The home affirms one’s self-worth; one fears (whether rightly or wrongly) that others will consider the person a “retirement failure” upon moving.


“The bitter truth is that an older person can succeed at remaining in her or his own home and still live a life as empty and difficult as that experienced by nursing home residents. Feeling compelled to stay in one’s home, no matter what, can result in dwindling choices and mounting levels of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom.”

This is a stark message. But here’s an even more discouraging problem: in my research on the issue, I encountered one repeated refrain. There is no solid scholarly research which asks the question: “which choice is the better one, in terms of future quality of life, to stay or to move?” It’s not an easy question, to be sure: simply looking at the quality of life of the elderly and comparing those who live in single-family homes vs. various kinds of “elder-friendly” housing would not adequately distinguish between those who moved due to some sort of health problem and those who moved with the aim of preventing future health problems, for example.

Publication Date: 5 June 2022

Author(s): Elizabeth Bauer

Publication Site: Forbes

Non-COVID deaths are up a significant amount this year. What’s driving the increase?



There were an additional 4,000 non-COVID deaths, or a five per cent increase, in the first four months this year, compared with the pre-pandemic average.

The director of the Mortality Data Centre at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Lauren Moran, said among the additional 4,000 deaths, more people died of chronic diseases compared to similar periods prior to the pandemic.

“We can see that for dementia, there’s been around a 20 per cent increase this year of the total number of deaths when we compare it to prior years, and around 18 per cent higher than expected for diabetes,” she said.

Ms Moran said that while some of the increase could be put down to natural variation and increases with an ageing population, the deaths are statistically significant and confirm a trend that began late last year.

Author(s): Annie Guest

Publication Date: 8 Aug 2022

Publication Site: Australian Broadcasting Commission News

Book Review: A Global History of the Black Death



James Belich’s new book, “The World the Plague Made: The Black Death and the Rise of Europe,” shows the depth and longevity of the controversy over the sources and impacts of an era-defining scourge. Belich, an Oxford University historian, suggests that what is now known as the Black Death was so consequential that its effects equal those of the Enlightenment, the Reformation, the Industrial Revolution, and the Renaissance. It’s a staggering implication, but he makes a decent case for it in this bold, tremendously researched work. From illustrating the plague’s effects globally to showing how central it was to Europe’s ascension, Belich demonstrates that the medieval pandemic influenced many aspects of human life.

Once called the Great Death or the Great Plague, the pandemic lasted hundreds of years and was so deadly that it is still popularly referred to simply as the Plague. “The Black Death Pandemic, beginning in 1345, persisted for more than three centuries and involved about 30 major epidemics in all,” writes Belich. What’s more, it “did not always behave like the modern pandemic,” he writes further on. “It killed far more people, for one thing.” Belich’s book implicitly underscores that, compared to the devastation of the plague, Covid-19 is relatively insignificant.

Just how many deaths was the Black Death responsible for? Despite centuries of debate on the subject, there is no consensus. The common belief is that the first wave killed between 25 percent and 33 percent of Western Europeans. (The historian Barbara Tuchman advanced the one-third estimate in her best-selling 1978 book about the 14th century, “A Distant Mirror.”) Belich suggests that the number was far higher. In the first strike alone, the population of Western Europe was cut in half, he writes, citing studies about the death rates in England, France, Italy, and Scandinavia. Many places didn’t return to their pre-plague population levels for some 250 years. (Despite his claims, the true extent of the toll is still widely contested.)


In Belich’s view, what made the plague different from other major historical events and catastrophes was that, while it decimated the human population, it left the material world untouched. It “doubled the average amount per person of everything,” from horses to housing, he writes. For a time, this meant more resources for survivors and greater access to luxury goods, better living conditions, and higher wages for workers.

Author(s): Jordan Michael Smith

Publication Date: 29 July 2022

Publication Site: unDark

Individual Disability Carriers Steer Through Uncertain Times




Seventeen carriers participated in our 2021 U.S. Individual Disability Market Survey, representing 99% of the market and $5.1 billion of in‑force premium. New sales in 2021 were $399 million which was flat when compared to new sales in 2020. Breaking this down even further, both Non-Cancelable (Non‑Can) and Guaranteed Renewable (GR) sales were flat when compared to 2020. Non‑Can was down 0.1% and GR was up 0.5%. Of the $399 million in total new sales premium, Non‑Can products represent 84% or $334 million, and GR is 16% or $65 million.

When asked about meeting their 2021 sales goals, 47% of the responding companies said they missed theirs. 18% of the companies met and 35% of the companies exceeded their goals. Some of the reasons given for missing sales goals were:

COVID limited face-to-face contact with consumers

Agents were focused on other products such as life insurance

The number of new policies issued grew by 2% to over 251,000 and total benefit amounts increased by 3% to more than $1.6 billion. The medical market continues to be a main driver of new business. In 2021, close to 30% of all new policies sold were in the medical market; however, the industry did see some growth down-market with increases in the number of new policies sold in the blue collar space.

Author(s): Steve Woods

Publication Date: 3 Aug 2022

Publication Site: Gen Re Perspective