The recent wave of U.S. deaths related to opioid use is a national tragedy — and it’s also a problem that could be affecting commercial life insurers.
Analysts at Reinsurance Group of America Inc. have come up with data supporting that concern in a new analysis based on data from a prescription drug history database.
- A link to the RGA opioid mortality risk analysis is a slidedeck that includes Alicia Munnell’s presentation is available here.
Federal public health agencies have been reporting high rates of death related to opioid use, and use of other drugs, for years. U.S. life expectancy has decreased for three years in a row, and one of the main causes is the number of accidental deaths related to opioid abuse.
Observers with an interest in commercial life insurance and annuities have wondered, however, whether the spike in opioid-related deaths will have much effect on commercial life insurers. People with life insurance and annuities tend to be healthier and more affluent than members of the general population.
The authors of the RGA opioid mortality analysis say government reports show that overdose death rates have been rising for university-educated people as well as for members of the general population.
The authors say they now have somewhat more direct evidence that opioid use could be affecting the kinds of people who might be expected to have life insurance and annuities.
The authors based their analysis on a database containing data on 3.2 million people, ages 30 to 69, who were eligible for health insurance coverage.
The authors filtered out the people in the database who were taking medications related to deadly health problems, such as cancer. The authors then adjusted the remaining data to account for the likelihood that many of the people still in the data had chronic health problems.