Scott Davison is the CEO of OneAmerica, an Indianapolis-based life insurance company founded in the 19th century. To start the new year, Davison told the audience of an online news conference that “We are seeing, right now, the highest death rates we have seen in the history of this business—not just at OneAmerica. The data is consistent across every player in that business.”

According to Davidson, the third and fourth quarters of this past year saw death rates “up 40% over what they were pre-pandemic.” Even more distressing, explains Davison, is that this is not some demographic anomaly with the eldest members of our society passing on. The 40% rise in death rates is consistent for working-class folks 18 to 64-years-old. “Just to give you an idea of how bad that is, a three-sigma or 200-year catastrophe would be a 10% increase over pre-pandemic levels.”

Comedian Greg Fitzsimmons once told a joke that the strange relationship a consumer has with life insurance can be summed up as the consumer placing a bunch of money on a table and saying, “I bet you I die this year,” and the insurance company picking up the money, counting it, and saying “We bet you don’t.”

Life insurance companies do not care about your feelings. People either die or they don’t. Different groups of people have higher mortality rates for a variety of reasons, and life insurance companies don’t particularly care what those reasons are—they just need to know whether they can bet on you to pay them more money than they will owe you when you are no longer around. It is as simple as that.

Every few weeks, a new study comes out pointing out that the “official” numbers of people who have died from COVID-19 are considerably lower than what the real numbers are. So while we all will point out that the United States is very soon to surpass one million deaths due to COVID-19, we also know that the number of people dying as a result of a broken health care system in crisis during a pandemic is likely astronomically higher.

Many folks on all planes of the political spectrum are psychologically and emotionally fatigued by our seemingly never-ending pandemic, in part because our federal government continues to cater to the billionaires and their race to absorb the crumbs of wealth they do not yet own. This has led to traditional media hoping to promote how the new, more contagious, omicron variant of the COVID-19 is more “mild.” But as we all know, “mild” is relative, and only tells the story of how many people end up dying in an ICU bed. 

As the actuaries are noting, a lot of people are dying before they make it to the hospital. So while some may not have had COVID-19, the economic and health care crisis we are facing will end up being the single deadliest event in our country’s history.