Oh, Hey, Working Age Americans Are Dying A Hell Of A Lot. The Economy Must Be GREAT!
Photo: Bob Boudon, Creative Commons License 2.0

The CEO of a major insurance company said last week that thanks to the pandemic, the death rate for working-age Americans is up some 40 percent from pre-pandemic levels. No, he continued, THAT IS REALLY A LOT.

Scott Davison, CEO of Indianapolis-based OneAmerica, said in a Dec. 30 online news conference held by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce,

We are seeing, right now, the highest death rates we have seen in the history of this business – not just at OneAmerica. The data is consistent across every player in that business.

Davison said the increased death rate translates to "huge, huge numbers” of people, and that the pandemic isn't just killing older people, either, so please suck it all you dipshits who said in 2020 that Gramma Millie had to die for the sake of the economy. Rather, he said that in the third and fourth quarters of 2021, it's “primarily working-age people 18 to 64” who are most at risk.

By comparison, Davison said, lapsing into insurance-speak, "Just to give you an idea of how bad that is, a three-sigma or a one-in-200-year catastrophe would be 10% increase over pre-pandemic, so 40% is just unheard of.”

Davison added that most insurance claims list other causes of death than COVID, but the numbers are nonetheless much higher than normal:

What the data is showing to us is that the deaths that are being reported as COVID deaths greatly understate the actual death losses among working-age people from the pandemic. It may not all be COVID on their death certificate, but deaths are up just huge, huge numbers.

He also noted that the company is also processing more disability claims, for short-term disability at first, and then for long-term disability as well. The disability costs for OneAmerica alone, he said, will be "well over $100 million, and this is our smallest business. So it’s having a huge impact on that."

In a brief search, because we are not going down that rabbit hole and you can't make us, we didn't find any precise statistics on death rates among the 18 to 64 demographic, but we'd note that in late December, the National Center for Health Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released stats showing a nearly two-year decline in average life expectancy for all Americans in 2020, as CNN reported:

Life expectancy at birth fell 1.8 years in 2020, from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77 years, the largest single-year decline in more than 75 years, since World War II.

The death rate — about 835 deaths per 100,000 people — jumped nearly 17% from 2019, the sharpest increase in more than a century since the CDC has been tracking this data.

Again, that's based on overall 2020 death rates; we don't think it's a stretch that an insurance CEO would have numbers to back up his claims about the particular working-age population his company insures.

Our considered opinion on this trend is "Yikes, I'll be 60 in June. I hope."

Indianapolis public broadcasting station WFYI reports that in response to the higher death and disability rates resulting from COVID, insurers are also "beginning to add premium increases on employers in counties with low vaccination rates to cover the benefit payouts." That seems entirely reasonable, yes, and if companies can actually extract the higher premiums through the unvaccinated employees' noses, we would recommend that as well. (Wear PPE though.)

Davison also noted that at his own company, most work has been done remotely during the pandemic, and that his vaccinated workers aren't at all delighted at the prospect of returning to the office, although at least a hybrid work arrangement is likely to become necessary eventually:

“The challenge we have is that 84 percent of our people are vaccinated, and we have heard loud and clear from our vaccinated employees that they want no part of working in an open office environment with unvaccinated associates,” Davison said. “And some of them made it very, very clear that if we try to commingle them with unvaccinated people, they’ll consider the workplace is unsafe.”

Davison added that whenever the Omicron wave of infections subsides enough to make returning to a hybrid work schedule feasible, OneAmerica would likely require vaccinations for all employees, which seems a bit backwards to us, but we are not an insurance company CEO.

In the meantime, perhaps the company could play this in its elevators and as its hold music.


Incidentally, a few years back, the indispensable blog BoingBoing fact-checked that Blue Oyster Cult song and determined that not only did it need more cowbell, its lyrics were way short on the average daily death rate:

Forty-thousand men and women every day (Like Romeo and Juliet)

Forty-thousand men and women every day (Redefine happiness)

Another forty-thousand coming every day (We can be like they are)

Come on, baby (Don't fear the reaper)

Well, actuarially, the real number for 1976 was more like 140,000 deaths daily, which works out well enough since that number wouldn't "screw with the meter too much." Then again, perhaps the lyrics only refer to lovers like Romeo and Juliet, in which case 40K a day seems disturbingly high.

Also, dying does not mean you can fly. This is another error in the lyrics.

[Center Square / CNN / BoingBoing / Photo: Bob Boudon (cropped), Creative Commons License 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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