…For the time being, at least, other U.S. insurers do not appear to be sharing data or observations about increased non-COVID hospitalization and death claims.
But the press in India is openly discussing the same unprecedented trends as Indiana.
The Times of India reported in late October that health insurers are seeing a “huge surge in non-COVID claims.” Again citing the magic number of 40%, the head of interventional cardiology at a Mumbai hospital noted a 40% increase in heart problems — acute coronary syndrome, sudden heart attacks and cardiac arrest — over the previous six to eight months
The cardiologist also observed that “even patients who have been stable for years are coming in with acute heart emergencies.”
That same month, the New Indian Express reported on widespread concern about the growing prevalence of heart attacks in those under age 45. Although these young adults — including a number of celebrities — typically have “no conventional risk factors,” Indian heart doctors are blaming the mysterious rise in heart attacks on “lifestyle choices.”
Around the same time in late December that OneAmerica’s Davison shared his remarks, Fortune India reported on data from the nation’s Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority showing a 41% increase (there’s that number again) in death claims in fiscal year 2021. In comparison, death claims rose by 11% in fiscal year 2020.
Describing the increase in non-COVID-19 deaths, a life insurance executive suggested the industry might end up posting “a 200-300% increase in claims” for 2021. For now, however, 18 of the 24 life insurance companies operating in India in 2020-21 are reporting profits.
India launched the “world’s biggest” COVID vaccination drive in January 2021, primarily administering AstraZeneca’s vaccine (manufactured by India’s Serum Institute under the brand name Covishield) and Covaxin, an India-developed vaccine perceived as having garnered a “hasty” approval and which resulted in one acknowledged death during clinical trials.
And, to get 2022 off to an ambitious start, India just administered Covaxin to more than 3.8 million teenagers (ages 15-18) in the span of a single day. With 120 million youngsters between ages 15 and 19, India has the largest adolescent population in the world, which will remain the target of COVID vaccination efforts.
Meanwhile, with no long-term safety data and VAERS reports of COVID vaccine injuries passing the one million mark, including tens of thousands of adverse events reported for 5- to 17-year-olds, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just okayed Pfizer booster shots for American teens ages 12 and up.
Academic researchers have long acknowledged the utility of insurance claims data for predicting trends. Describing India’s 24 life insurance companies, one writer noted the “millions of rows of data” generated by 310 million policies, stating “you can imagine the humongous amount of data generated by insurance companies in India and [the] world over.”
Likewise, Substack writer and mathematician Matthew Crawford pondered the implications of Davison’s admissions, commenting, “I’m sure I’m one of many who wonder what kind of diamond mine of data the insurance companies are sitting on.”
Recent reports indicate U.S. life expectancy declined in 2020 by an unprecedented 1.8 years, and Davison’s remarks suggest we could see even worse when 2021 is tallied up.
At a 2017 symposium of actuaries, a presenter noted that understanding shifts in the structure of mortality requires going beyond variables such as life expectancy to look at the main drivers of the change and the age ranges affected.
In a study published a few months ago, researchers tackled that type of analysis, finding the dramatic decline in U.S. life expectancy was not only due to “direct” effects of COVID but also “indirect” effects (for example, from restrictive policies).
The researchers emphasized the 15 to 44 age group was most strongly impacted by indirect effects.
Clearly, numerous factors could be contributing to premature deaths in working-age adults — including suicide, overdoses and deferred care related to lockdowns.
However, the pressing question raised by life insurer Davison’s disclosures is whether insurance companies will reveal the extent to which the COVID injections are also having a fatal impact.