“Mental health impact of Covid not felt on insurers yet” – Swiss Re

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The extended impact of Covid-19 is likely to be felt on insurers in the coming years, says a new report from Swiss Re.

The report, The Legacy of Covid-19: The Ongoing Mental Health Impact on Australia’s Community, focuses on the impacts in Australia. It says that there has not yet been a greater uptake in mental health care being accessed through private health insurance in Australia.

It wrote: “The list of stressors grew as people increased health behaviours, adapted to lockdowns, became socially isolated, endured border closures, and responded to changed economic conditions. The prevalence of mental health conditions in Australia had been increasing pre-pandemic and the life industry has recorded a corresponding increase in claims over the past five years. However, there has not been the spike in mental health claims expected as a result of COVID-19 and its impact on the community.”

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However, the reinsurance giant wrote that the ‘complex interplay of factors’ meaning that continued monitoring of mental health claims in an evolving post-COVID landscape is recommended.

The authors of the White Paper put their findings against the context of rising mental health awareness in Australia in recneet years, noting that there had been an average increase in mental health admissions of 5.6% over the last four years.

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It added: “One in five hospital claims for private health members aged under 30 were for mental health care, and mental disorders are the top major diagnostic category for female private health members aged up to 55 years. It is important to note this increase is indicative of more severe mental health conditions requiring inpatient treatment.”

But looking ahead, the firm said that while there was no great spike in demand for mental health services during the pandemic, its modelling suggested that the UK in comparison would see the impact in coming years.

It wrote: “It is interesting to look at the expected impact of COVID-19 on mental health in the United Kingdom (UK), keeping in mind the number of COVID-19 cases has been significantly greater than in Australia. The UK also have a Government-subsidised healthcare system (the National Health Service – NHS), and offer similar Life Insurance products such as disability insurance policies. Modelling in the UK has suggested over the next three to five years, 20% of the population in England will require new or additional mental health support services as a direct result of the pandemic.”

It added: “The NHS is unlikely to cope, leading to delays in treatment and chronicity of symptoms. Those most at risk are individuals who survived severe COVID-19 illness; healthcare workers; those who experienced bereavement; and those economically affected by the pandemic.”

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