Actuaries, Insurers, and Long COVID

Oh my? It is a stunning indictment of our public health system that the one group I don’t think is trying to gaslight us on long COVID isn’t our federal public health officials, but actuaries. From that well-known socialist news agency CNN Business (boldface mine):

But it’s premature to say that Covid is no longer an economic issue when long Covid has such a significant effect on America’s workforce, economists and health care officials say.

Long Covid, which stems from a Covid-19 infection, is considered a chronic illness that is sometimes debilitating. As many as 30% of Americans, about 23 million people, develop long Covid after a Covid infection, said the US Department of Health and Human Services in November.

The bottom line is that long Covid is why the labor force participation rate has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, even in a situation with solid wage growth,” wrote Torsten Slok, chief economist and partner at Apollo Global Management, in a recent note.

“These ‘missing’ workers are why companies continue to report labor shortages and why wage inflation remains so high,” said Slok. “This continues to be a challenge for the Fed as the FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee] tries to get inflation quickly back to the Fed’s 2% inflation target.”

Fed officials have expressed concern that a root cause of inflation growth is our low labor participation rate and the imbalance of worker supply and demand which leads to an increase in wages and higher prices.

A new analysis of workers’ compensation claims in New York State found that around 18% of long Covid patients still hadn’t returned to work more than a year after contracting the virus. More than three quarters of them were under 60.

“Long Covid has harmed the workforce,” said the report, compiled by the New York State Insurance Fund. These findings, “highlight long Covid as an underappreciated yet important reason for the many unfilled jobs and declining labor participation rate in the economy, and they presage a possible reduction in productivity as employers feel the strains of an increasingly sick workforce.”

Another academic study found that about 7% of US adults, or 19 million people, still suffer from long Covid.

Caregiving for those suffering from Covid or long Covid is also affecting the labor imbalance, said Giacomo Santangelo, an economics professor at Fordham University.

Meanwhile, the reporters with access to the White House or federal public health officials steadfastly refuse–and at this point, one should assume intentionality, not incompetence or ignorance–to ask what the actual percentages of people with different vaccination (and boosting) statuses who will contract long COVID after a breakthrough infection.

This is the time when you should listen to the green eyeshade brigade. Ask the fucking questions.

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