U.S. Mortality Trends Through the Pandemic

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/us-mortality-trends-through-the-pandemic?s=w

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I discuss this in the portion of the talk about death rates by age group.

For 2021, the worst relative increase in mortality, compared to 2019, was for ages 30-44.

[I have called it the Millennial Massacre, but it obviously overlaps with Gen X…. and Middle Age Massacre doesn’t exactly work, either. Dang the allure of alliteration].

We will see in a moment that most of that mortality increase didn’t come from COVID.

If you look at overall mortality, obviously total mortality for this age group is much lower than for those much older.

A 5% increase in mortality for those aged 85+ will translate to a much larger number of deaths, but a 50% increase in mortality for those aged 40-44 is extremely worrisome to actuaries and insurers even if the absolute number of deaths is lower in impact. We’re setting reserves and expectations based on certain assumptions, and we’re generally not assuming fluctuations of 50% — that’s just nuts compared to our historical experience…..

…..until now.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 20 May 2022

Publication Site: STUMP on substack

The pandemic’s reported death toll will soon reach 1 million people in the United States.

Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/interactive/2022/how-many-people-died-covid-united-states-1-million-graphic/

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The pandemic’s death toll in the United States will surpass 1 million people in the coming days. Conveying the meaning or the magnitude of this number is impossible. But 1 million deaths is the benchmark of an unprecedented American tragedy.

Consider this comparison: The population of D.C. is about 670,000 people. Try to imagine life without every person, in every building, on every street, in the nation’s capital. And then imagine another 330,000 people are gone.

To attempt to put the 1 million deaths in context, we plotted its damage over more than two years and compared the continuing death toll with the tolls from previous catastrophes in our history.

Author(s): Sergio Peçanha and Yan Wu

Publication Date: 12 May 2022

Publication Site: Washington Post

COVID-19 Deaths Cause More Than $700M in Q1 Claims

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/05/09/covid-19-deaths-continue-to-hit-life-insurers-hard/

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Reinsurance Group of America — a Chesterfield, Missouri-based reinsurer — said its U.S. COVID-19 individual life claims fell to $260 million in the latest quarter, from $340 million a year earlier.

“Our U.S. individual mortality results are very consistent with what we are seeing in the general population this quarter,” Jonathan Porter, RGA’s global chief risk officer, said Friday, during a conference call with securities analysts. “We saw a reduction in our claim cost per 10,000 general population deaths as compared to the third quarter and fourth quarter of 2021. This improvement, we believe, is in part due to the lower proportion of deaths in working ages.”

Here’s what happened to U.S. COVID-19 claim statistics at some other life insurers, including some that are known mainly for group life:

MetLife: $230 million in world group life claims this quarter, down from $280 million a year earlier.

Hartford Financial: $96 million before taxes this quarter, down from $185 million a year earlier.

Unum: 1,400 deaths at an average of $55,000, or $77 million, down from 1,725 deaths at an average of $65,000, or $112 million, a year earlier.

Lincoln Financial: $53 million in group life claim claims and $18 million in group disability claims this quarter, down from $83 million in group life claims and $7 million in group disability claims a year earlier.

Voya: $35 million in group life claims this quarter, up from $29 million a year earlier.

Primerica: $16 million in life claims this quarter, down from $21 million a year earlier.

Author(s): Allison Bell

Publication Date: 9 May 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor

Preliminary results for 2021 All-Cause U.S. Mortality: 21% More Deaths than 2019, 2% More Deaths than 2020

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/preliminary-results-for-2021-all?s=w

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As you can see from the annotation on the graph, so far there have been 2% more deaths reported in 2021 compared to 2020. You can see that there had been a spike of deaths at the beginning of 2021, then a quiet spring/early summer. I did not extend my graph into 2022, but the heightened mortality of later/summer fall into winter has continued into winter at the beginning of 2022.

For the record, the 1% increase in deaths from 2018 to 2019 was pretty common before, driven by regular growth of the aging population of the U.S.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 3 April 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Alcohol-Related Deaths During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Link: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2790491

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The number of deaths involving alcohol increased between 2019 and 2020 (from 78 927 to 99 017 [relative change, 25.5%]), as did the age-adjusted rate (from 27.3 to 34.4 per 100 000 [relative change, 25.9%]) (Table). Comparatively, deaths from all causes had smaller relative increases in number (from 2 823 460 to 3 353 547 [18.8%]) and rate (from 938.3 to 1094.3 per 100 000 [16.6%]). Alcohol-related deaths accounted for 2.8% of all deaths in 2019 and 3.0% in 2020.

The Figure presents the number of alcohol-related deaths in 2019 and 2020 by month, with provisional data included for the first 6 months of 2021.

Rates increased for all age groups, with the largest increases occurring for people aged 35 to 44 years (from 22.9 to 32.0 per 100 000 [39.7%]) and 25 to 34 years (from 11.8 to 16.1 per 100 000 [37.0%]). Increases in rates were similar for females (from 13.7 to 17.5 per 100 000 [27.3%]) and males (from 42.1 to 52.6 per 100 000 [25.1%]) (Table).

The number of deaths with an underlying cause of alcohol-associated liver diseases increased from 24 106 to 29 504 (22.4%) and the number of deaths with an underlying cause of alcohol-related mental and behavioral disorders increased from 11 261 to 15 211 (35.1%). Opioid overdose deaths involving alcohol as a contributing cause increased from 8503 to 11 969 (40.8%). Deaths in which alcohol contributed to overdoses specifically on synthetic opioids other than methadone (eg, fentanyl) increased from 6302 to 10 032 (59.2%).

Author(s): Aaron M. White, PhD1; I-Jen P. Castle, PhD1; Patricia A. Powell, PhD1; et al

Publication Date: 18 Mar 2022

Publication Site: JAMA Network

More Americans 65 and Under Died from Alcohol-Related Causes Than Covid-19 in 2020, Study Finds

Link: https://www.nationalreview.com/news/more-americans-65-and-under-died-from-alcohol-related-causes-than-covid-19-in-2020-study-finds/

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Alcohol-related deaths increased 25 percent from 2019 to 2020, with alcohol-related deaths among adults younger than 65 outnumbering deaths from Covid-19 in the same age group in 2020, a new study found.

Alcohol-related deaths, including from liver disease and accidents, increased to 99,017 in 2020, up from 78,927 the year prior, according to the study performed by researchers with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

While 74,408 Americans ages 16 to 64 died of alcohol-related causes, 74,075 individuals under 65 died of Covid-19, the study found. The rate of increase for alcohol-related deaths in 2020 (25 percent) was greater than the rate of increase of deaths from all causes (16.6 percent).

The study shows just another unintended consequence of Covid-19 lockdowns and mitigation measures.

Author(s): Brittany Bernstein

Publication Date: 22 March 2022

Publication Site: National Review

Motor Vehicle Accident Deaths, Part 2: Age-Related Trends with Provisional Results in 2021

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/motor-vehicle-accident-deaths-part?s=w

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The rates are per 100,000 people for the year, but the point is who has the highest, and we see that the answer is:

For 2019: age 85+

For 2020: age 20-24

I threw in the age 15-19 group as ringers, by the way. When we get to all the age groups, they’re not even #4 in the ranking.

Just in that little table, you can see that the rates went up for the youngsters and dropped for the seniors. Think about why that might be.

As noted in my polling question, I’m not adjusting for the number of miles driven, and I’m not going to dig for that data now. But would you like to make some assumptions about the driving habits of these different groups? Especially during the pandemic?

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 2 March 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Rise in Non-Covid-19 Deaths Hits Life Insurers

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/rise-in-non-covid-19-deaths-hits-life-insurers-11645576252

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In earnings calls for the past two quarters, Globe Life Inc.,Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Primerica Inc. andReinsurance Group of America Inc. were among insurers noting higher non-Covid-19 deaths, compared with pre-pandemic baselines.

“The losses we are seeing continue to be elevated over 2019 levels due at least in part, we believe, to the pandemic and the existence of either delayed or unavailable healthcare,” Globe Life finance chief Frank Svoboda told analysts and investors earlier this month.

Among the non-coronavirus-specific claims are deaths from heart and circulatory issues and neurological disorders, he said. “We anticipate that they’ll start to be less impactful over the course of 2022 but we do anticipate that we’ll still at least see some elevated levels throughout the year,” he said.

Primerica executives similarly cautioned in their fourth-quarter call about outsize numbers of non-Covid-19 deaths in 2022. “Some of these will be the result of delayed medical care or the increased incidence of societal-related issues, such as the increased prevalence of substance abuse,” Chief Financial Officer Alison Rand said in an email interview.

From early stages of the pandemic, many medical professionals have raised concerns about Americans’ untreated health problems, as Covid-19 put stress on the nation’s healthcare system.

Author(s): Leslie Scism

Publication Date: 23 Feb 2022

Publication Site: WSJ

Geography of Mortality: State Ranking by Increase in Total Mortality and COVID Mortality, 2020-2021, Provisional

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/geography-of-mortality-state-ranking

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With this tile grid map, we can see that the two-year mortality experience has been horrible, even on an age-adjusted basis. I will be using age-adjusted death rates [using the standard 2000-reference-age-adjustment] for all the comparisons. The methodology is at the end of the post.

I warn against taking any meaning from North Carolina, as it has a data-reporting problem. Hawaii, however, really does have a low increase in mortality, and I believe it is credible that the mortality increase of the northeast is also low. I am not sure how credibly to take the increase in mortality of Wyoming, given its relatively small population.

However, we can see some patterns. In general, one has a “hot spot”, and then the increase falls off as you retreat from that peak. The large pattern is the high increase along the southern border — Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mississippi — and then the next layer above is less bad, and so forth. There is the Wyoming peak, falls off around there. There is the midwest cluster – Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio. And then New York/New Jersey.

As well we know, the excess mortality is driven primarily by COVID, which I will get to in the next major section, but let me share some ranking tables.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 23 Feb 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Tracking covid-19 excess deaths across countries

Link: https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/coronavirus-excess-deaths-tracker?utm_campaign=a.coronavirus-special-edition&utm_medium=email.internal-newsletter.np&utm_source=salesforce-marketing-cloud&utm_term=20220219&utm_content=ed-picks-article-link-6&etear=nl_special_6&utm_campaign=a.coronavirus-special-edition&utm_medium=email.internal-newsletter.np&utm_source=salesforce-marketing-cloud&utm_term=2/19/2022&utm_id=1055648

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As covid-19 has spread around the world, people have become grimly familiar with the death tolls that their governments publish each day. Unfortunately, the total number of fatalities caused by the pandemic may be even higher, for several reasons. First, the official statistics in many countries exclude victims who did not test positive for coronavirus before dying—which can be a substantial majority in places with little capacity for testing. Second, hospitals and civil registries may not process death certificates for several days, or even weeks, which creates lags in the data. And third, the pandemic has made it harder for doctors to treat other conditions and discouraged people from going to hospital, which may have indirectly caused an increase in fatalities from diseases other than covid-19.

Publication Date: Accessed 21 Feb 2022

Publication Site: The Economist

COVID Waves in 2020 Caused Bigger U.S Death Rate Spike Than 1918 Flu: Actuaries

Link:https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/01/26/covid-waves-in-2020-caused-bigger-u-s-death-rate-spike-than-1918-flu-actuaries/

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The pandemic led to the biggest U.S. death rate increase from causes other than COVID-19 since 1936.

The death rate in the highest-income counties increased to 736.1 deaths per 100,000 people, from 638.4 per 100,000 in 2019

For people ages 5 through 44, increases in the death rate from causes other than COVID-19 were much bigger than the increase caused directly by COVID-19.

Author(s): Allison Bell

Publication Date: 26 Jan 2021

Publication Site: Think Advisor

The 5 Highest-Population States’ Current COVID-19 Mortality Picture

Link:https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/02/07/the-5-highest-population-states-current-covid-19-mortality-picture/

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Life insurers had hoped that vaccination campaigns, social distancing efforts and the effects of past COVID-19 infections on people’s immune systems would start to reduce the impact of the pandemic on people with commercial life insurance and other commercial insurance products.

While the fall 2021 surge was underway, information about deaths and life insurance claims emerged slowly. Some life insurers suggested that the fall surge seemed to be spiking hard but ending quickly.

Now, Unum GroupLincoln FinancialMetLife and other life insurers are saying that the fall surge did cause big increases in the ratio of death benefits to life insurance premiums. At Unum, for example, the ratio increased to 98.3% in the latest quarter, from 71.7% in the fourth quarter of 2019, before the pandemic began.

Author(s): Allison Bell

Publication Date: 7 Feb 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor