What’s with “Excess Deaths”?
This is one of those articles that I will write that probably has no answers. It only brings up questions. That question today is “What’s with Excess Deaths”?
When the pandemic hit and deaths increased for almost all funeral homes across the world, one of the questions asked was “With these extra deaths happening now, will deaths be less in the immediate years following the pandemic?” That question became known as the “Pull-Forward” effect question. In essence, it was believed that many people that died of Covid may have been vulnerable older adults and their deaths were “pulled-forward” by the disease.
Following that line of thinking, that would then lead to less deaths in the years immediately following the pandemic death years of 2020 and 2021. That was a common perception during the 2020 pandemic year. Well, that’s not happening. . . so what is up?
For the 2nd quarter in a row, Service Corporation International (SCI) CEO Thomas Ryan has brought up “excess deaths” in his comments about his company’s financial performance. Here’s what he said in the press release of last week, “. . .they (financial results) significantly exceeded our expectations as we continue to experience some impact from COVID-19 as well as a higher number of other excess deaths.”
When asked the question during SCI’s Earnings Call last week Ryan also said this:
“I think on the excess deaths, I mentioned that what we can do is we can go to the death certificate and see why somebody’s been deceased. And normally, we’d expect, let’s say, a 1% compounded under growth, but we’re at 5%. So you begin to say what’s causing that? And I think some of it could be the beginning of the baby boomers. Some of it could be our market share. And I think I believe most of it is either COVID-related and a lot less of that and more of this concept of excess deaths.
Remember, the concept of excess death is really around as a society are we less healthy, mentally and physically than we were going into the COVID and the ramifications of that, lack of access to healthcare for some period of time. So it’s our belief and I think there’s other data supporting this that those trends will continue, albeit to lessen.”
So, it appears that CEO Ryan believes we are a less healthy society today and that is part of the problem. I don’t disagree with that. I also know that the United States would be expected to have about 3 million deaths in a normal calendar year. According to the Center for Disease Controls (CDC) we do know that, according to this article, for the 12-month period ending March 2022, the United States suffered about 109,000 deaths by drug overdose. . . . popping that number into the expected 3 million deaths increases the number of deaths, by itself, about 3.6% annually, although some of those deaths would have been expected to be in the 3 million total already.
And, what about Europe? In this article, the number of deaths from December 2022 is compared to the average number of deaths from the years of 2016-2019 (Pre-Covid). Here’s what the graphic below indicates about European deaths in December 2022 as compared to those pre-Covid years:
- “Excess mortality in the EU rose sharply in December 2022, compared with the previous month, and stood at 19.0 %.”
- “In December 2022, excess mortality continued to vary across the EU. Bulgaria and Romania recorded little or no excess deaths. The most affected EU country, Germany, recorded an excess mortality rate of 37.3 %.”
So, this article has no answers, but even on mainstream television the other night this was a story. No answers were given, but I decided to do a little research on the subject. While we don’t understand this phenomena yet, it behooves us to get an idea of why this has happened because in the Death Care business it is a pretty simple fact that the number of deaths in a certain period of time will reflect on the financial performance of businesses who carry out the responsibilities of caring for the deceased.
More news from the world of Death Care:
- Community organization restores oldest Black cemetery in Knoxville. Knoxville News Sentinel
- In bleak Russian cemetery, sea of crosses signals war’s true toll. Yahoo
- 9 steps to take when there is a death in the family. Newswire
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