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January 27, 2023

The True Cost of Post-COVID for Employers

Artemis Health

The COVID-19 pandemic and its long-lasting effects have presented severe personal and financial loss. One of the biggest challenges that continues to swell is post-COVID syndrome, impacting employees and employers alike.  

What is Post-COVID Syndrome

Post-COVID syndrome, also known as long COVID or post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), refers to the persistence of symptoms in some individuals after the acute phase of COVID-19 has passed (which, for most individuals, typically lasts about two weeks). Long-haulers experience lingering health problems even when they have recovered from the acute phase of the illness.

Such health problems can range from breathing issues, heart problems, kidney damage, and loss of taste and smell to neurological problems, cognitive and mental health issues, post-intensive care syndrome, POTS, insomnia, and diabetes.

Who has Post-COVID

Recent research indicates 10% to 15% of people who had a case of Covid-19 also develop long COVID symptoms. Our book of business mirrored this with 15% of members overlapping both diagnosis codes. In the United States, this adds up to over 11 million people with other estimates double that figure.

Why Employers Should Care

Post-COVID results in $9,500 of total average medical costs for workers and their employers in the six months following a diagnosis, according to a study by Nomi Health. A portion of the expense can be contributed to patients wandering through the healthcare system with various symptoms until providers can pinpoint and provide long-covid treatments. Artemis data showed that post-COVID primary and secondary diagnoses typically occurred in typically more expensive emergency and urgent care settings.

Employers should understand the impact of the pandemic on their workforce and take steps to implement preventive protocols, proactive programs to support workers with post-COVID, and mitigate financial costs through education on post-COVID symptoms and encouraging individuals to utilize primary care visits.  

Time Off and Disability Costs

With a range of symptoms and treatment needs, employees with post-COVID are 3.6 times more likely to miss work.  

Based on a segment of our database we saw that out of 7.1 million people, over 11.5K have a post-COVID diagnosis—779 of these are minors. Employees with post-COVID or those caring for dependents with long COVID may feel like it’s a full-time job just to get better and may need additional time away to seek treatment.  

Productivity and Labor Shortage

A Harvard researcher forecasted that the total economic costs of long COVID to be $3.7 trillion.

It’s probable that the estimated 4 million workers with long COVID who have had to leave their jobs can be accounted for 15% of the labor shortage and can translate to 1% loss of U.S. GDP.

Those still working with post-COVID may have a loss of productivity due to common symptoms of fatigue, brain fog, and difficulty concentrating.  

A Ripple Effect in Diagnostics and Expenses  

Post-COVID diagnosis follows the same trend as COVID in peak season—bring down the curve; bring down post-COVID costs. But what other curves are correlating with post-COVID diagnosis?  

Artemis clients can see increases in fatigue, various respiratory and cardiac conditions, along with anxiety and other ailments in their populations. By getting the bigger picture of current costs and associated conditions, employers can better plan and implement a wide range of interventions to holistically support and protect their workers.

Want to to explore the impact post-COVID has had on your population? Contact us today to learn how.
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