Will insurers and actuaries see the recent trend in excess mortality as a blip, or something that presages the future? It’s a profound question because the causes of death are inextricably linked not only to lifestyles, but to the availability of medical treatments in particular postcodes, plus income levels. In short, if you cannot afford to go private that may diminish your survival chances in a time when the NHS is rationing GPs, consultants, operations and other services.
Then there are the political issues surrounding the interpretation of mortality causation in the UK, which will have to be factored into AI analysis of raw data at some point. Can insurers grasp that nettle, or will they accept whatever government line is being peddled?
Of particular note in the stats below is the alarming rise in mortality for younger people aged 20-44. Nobody in government or the mainstream media wishes to discuss the reasons for such a sharp rise of nearly 8% compared to 2019. But if insurers want their Life and Critical Illness policies to have a workable future, they must analyse the real causes of premature death in order to calculate risk tables. Here’s the word from the CMI;
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) is publishing frequent UK mortality analysis through its mortality monitor. Today’s updates cover week 1 of 2023 (to 6 January), based on provisional England & Wales deaths data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 17 January 2023. This enables us to analyse mortality for the whole of 2022.
The key points of these updates are:
- Mortality for 2022 as a whole was 4.5% higher than 2019, but 7.8% lower than in 2020 and 2.2% lower than in 2021.
- There is a striking difference in how mortality rates in 2022 compare to 2019 at different ages – ranging from 2.5% higher for ages 75-84 to 7.8% higher for ages 20-44.
- In the UK, there have been around 155,300 more deaths from all causes than expected from the start of the pandemic to 6 January 2023. Of these, 72,900 occurred in 2020, 47,500 in 2021, and 31,000 in 2022.
- In the UK, the second half of 2022 had 26,300 excess deaths, compared to 4,700 in the first half of 2022.
Deaths registered in week 1 of 2023 are affected by public holidays, when register offices are typically closed and some registrations will be delayed. Figures for this week are not directly comparable to other weeks:
- The number of deaths registered in England & Wales in week 1 of 2023 was 3,437 higher than if mortality rates had been the same as in week 1 of 2019; equivalent to 30% more deaths than expected.
- The number of deaths registered in England & Wales with COVID-19 mentioned on the death certificate was 739 in week 1 of 2023.
Cobus Daneel, Chair of the CMI Mortality Projections Committee, said: “Although weekly excess mortality in the second half of 2022 wasn’t nearly as high as the peaks earlier in the pandemic, it was persistent. This led to more excess deaths in the second half of 2022 than in the second half of any year since 2010.
“Excess mortality has been particularly high recently with more than 7,000 excess deaths over the three weeks to 6 January 2023.”
All mortality monitor weekly updates are publicly available on the mortality monitor page.