MAXIS Global Benefits Network has revealed significant global discrepancies between different countries in how COVID-19 has affected medical claims.

A analysis of exclusive data of paid claims from MAXIS has shown that in many countries, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on diseases of the respiratory system. Data from Mexico shows that 9% of all claims paid in 2020 were related to COVID-19, the highest of any country in MAXIS data.

Respiratory illnesses accounted for 15% of total claims paid in Mexico in 2020, down from just 6% in 2019, a 135% jump year-over-year. COVID-19 was cited as a factor in 64% of all respiratory claims in the country, while non-COVID claims made up the remaining 36%.

However, MAXIS data show significant variations between countries. While Mexico and Pakistan (60.6%) saw more respiratory claims related to COVID-19, Singapore and Kuwait saw only 0.01% and 1.1%, respectively, of claims with the same link.

MAXIS said this could reflect the differences in health equity between ethnic groups and mortality from the virus in each country, the capacity of public health systems to cope with the pandemic or the speed of implementation of the lockdown measures and vaccination programs.

He said, “By examining data on COVID-19 claims, you can understand the needs of your employees in each market and plan wellness interventions to give your employees access to the care they need. This may mean adding telemedicine services so that employees can continue to have medical access despite bottlenecks or implementing employee assistance programs and other services to help support employee mental health. . “

MAXIS also noted that COVID has been particularly deadly for people with chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and asthma. “It’s hardly surprising that we’ve seen a link between chronic disease and COVID-19 in our claims data,” he said.

Data from Mexico show that all chronic diseases that have played a significant contributory role in increasing the severity of COVID-19 combined add up to 32% of the total cost of claims. These include diseases of the circulatory system, malignant cancers, kidney disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and asthma.

MAXIS noted that blockages and lack of access to usual treatments could have led to worsening chronic diseases in some cases.

As a percentage of total claims paid, musculoskeletal claims have also increased year over year in many markets, MAXIS said. “There is no doubt that poor ergonomic work environments, limited mobility and less exercise – all due to the large number of people suddenly working from home with limited access to gyms – all contributed to this increase,” he said. he explained.

MAXIS has advised employers to consider targeted wellness programs aimed at reducing some of their top chronic disease cost drivers. “These can be delivered through educational campaigns or online programs and can help employees better manage their chronic illnesses or musculoskeletal disorders, keeping people healthier and less at risk of expensive treatments,” did he declare.

MAXIS data shows an 87 percent reduction in paid cancer claims in Cyprus, a 69 percent reduction in Ecuador and a 37 percent drop in Panama. He warned that a drop in cancer claims could be proof that fewer cases are being identified early. “Employers might consider promoting the benefits of cancer screenings to employees to help with early diagnosis or catch anything that has been missed as soon as possible,” he advised.

MAXIS said the majority of COVID-19 cases have so far been treated through inpatient channels, with patients needing hospitalization to deal with the effects of the virus, especially in Mexico, Panama, in Egypt, Ecuador and the United Arab Emirates.

Hospitalization costs for inpatients are much higher than outpatient care, he noted, which could influence changes in costs and benefits in the future. “Ambulatory channels may be used more as the world learns to welcome and treat the virus in different ways,” MAXIS predicted.

MAXIS also warned of the impact COVID has had on mental health. As a percentage of total claims paid, mental health costs have increased year over year in many markets, he said: In Chile, mental health claims in 2020 increased by 22% compared to the previous year; in the UK, these claims rose 49 per cent.

“While we cannot be sure, it is very likely that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic: social isolation, job loss, deaths of loved ones and the constant barrage of negative news, may have contributed to an increase in mental health problems, “It said.

MAXIS ‘conclusions are based on a study of its data on paid claims around the world in 2020 and early 2021. Initial findings are based on paid claims from 17 of the MAXIS network members around the world, including in a number of emerging economies. , Asia, the Middle East, and Central and South America.

MAXIS has warned that its data does not incorporate the significant amount of publicly available COVID-19 data released by governments and similar bodies, and only cover private medical claims. It therefore does not give a full picture of COVID-19 in those countries, he said.

As of mid-July, there had been more than 184 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3.9 million deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, with 3 billion doses of vaccine administered, there appears to be some light at the end of the long COVID-19 tunnel, he said.

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