Long COVID: bracing for the wave

With persistently high numbers of new COVID infections across Australia, the Actuaries Institute of Australia has warned the disability insurance and healthcare sectors should be bracing for a wave of Long COVID and with it, rising claims costs and premiums.

Thus far, Australia’s Long COVID claims experience has been fairly minimal. In the first two years of the pandemic, border closures, lockdowns and other measures reduced spread of COVID-19. However, in 2022 Australia’s COVID-19 landscape has changed, with 90% of the total COVID infections occurring in just the past few months.

Notwithstanding the beneficial impact of vaccination on lowering rates of Long COVID, a paper released by the Actuaries Institute earlier this month, “How Covid-19 has affected Mortality and Morbidity in 2020 and 2021”, predicts that the number of Long COVID cases on the horizon will be significant, potentially up to hundreds of thousands.

Impact on disability insurance sector

Long COVID is a poorly understood condition with a complex and diverse set of symptoms affecting physical, psychological, and neurological body systems. There are no routine tests or imaging to confirm diagnosis, no clear durations, and no effective treatment.

The paper notes that what is known is that Long COVID symptoms, particularly fatigue, can limit activity and an individual’s ability to work. As a result, the Actuaries Institute anticipates increased Long COVID related insurance claims across workers compensation and disability insurance including group salary continuance and income protection.

They advise that workplaces will need tailored support to enable workers to return to or remain at work while experiencing Long COVID symptoms, and that better healthcare for long term illness is essential to manage this approaching challenge.

Our response

IPAR has teamed with Monash University to develop a series of COVID support services. This includes a Long COVID screening tool to help with early intervention, plus a tailored health coaching program to support RTW for people who are impacted by COVID diagnosis or Long COVID.

What more information? Please contact IPAR on 03 8648 0900  or email rehab@ipar.com.au